VENTURA COUNTY: Audit Reveals Questionable Business
Ventura County transferred millions of dollars from its mental health budget to another health account, which it has the authority to do, but broke state law by not properly documenting the transfers, a new state report finds. According to California Mental Health Planning Council Director Ann Arneill-Py, who conducted the audit, Ventura was one of 18 counties "that did not perform a credible analysis"; the other 40 California counties transferred no money. According to the audit, the county shifted $3.1 million from the mental health fund to pay for overhead costs at the county hospital and other health services. The council's report also faults Ventura "for failing to adequately notify local mental health boards before transferring the money." The Los Angeles Times reports that the audit is "the most detailed critique yet in a controversy about the county's practice of transferring mental health funds." But Lin Koester, the county's chief administrator, "said all transfers were part of the regular countywide budget process," and public hearings allow anyone to comment on the budget decisions. "There has been disclosure and backup written information and public input," he said. The state Department of Mental Health is conducting a separate investigation of Ventura's health departments; a report is due out in May (Saillant, 4/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.