State audit reveals California has undercharged users of veterans homes

Some properties engaged in inappropriate conduct, such as hot-air balloon flights

Jan.January 30, 2019 03:00 PM
(Credit: Pixabay)

A state audit has revealed California has been undercharging private users of state-funded veterans facilities, thus denying veterans programs money owed to them.

The California Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees eight residential facilities, and the Department of General Services, allegedly entered into long-term agreements with third parties — which included theaters, museums and golf courses — and then failed to funnel the money into the veterans homes, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Both agencies failed to ensure that $610,000 was “appropriately directed to the homes” over three years, state auditor Elaine Howle wrote in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature.

State law says that funds from leases, which were generally below market rates, must be channeled back to the veterans facilities.

State officials were also found guilty of failing to protect the state from liability. In one case, officials allowed cycling events and fun runs without securing proper written agreements. In another, a lessee allowed hot-air balloons to fly daily on the property grounds.

The head of the California Department of Veterans Affairs affirmed the findings and said she was pursuing legislation that could correct the situation. CalVet Secretary Vito Imbasciani said his agency has already started revisiting existing leases and reviewing certain arrangements. [LAT] — Natalie Hoberman

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