Santa Ana Uses Tax Dollars to Take Seniors on Gambling Trips

Officials in the city of Santa Ana have used tax dollars to take local seniors on gambling junkets and winery tours, according to a spending review by the Orange County Transportation Authority, reported by the Voice of OC.

“A city service funded by the Transportation Authority and known as the Senior Mobility Program was established to shuttle elderly residents back-and-forth between their homes and the city's two senior centers, as well as for trips to the grocery store and local attractions such as the Bower’s Museum,” the Voice of OC reported. “But the Transportation Authority’s review found that at least $15,778 was spent on trips to places ‘outside of Orange County,’ like San Diego’s Balboa Park, the Central Coast wine country town of Solvang, and casinos in San Diego County.”

The city funds 20 percent of the program, which costs $179,308. The Transportation Authority covers the remaining 80 percent with revenue from the county’s half-percent sales tax that funds various public transit projects and services.

The review, conducted by Rancho Cucamonga-based auditing firm of Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co., tested $57,035 worth of spending in fiscal year 2014-15. “It also found inconsistencies regarding a $5 per person fee the city was charging seniors for expenses like museum entry fees and snacks,” the news service reported. “The revenue couldn’t be accounted for and seniors contacted by the auditor said they had to pay those costs out of their own pockets. Also, auditors couldn’t determine whether $8,600 spent on contractors providing the senior transportation service was spent appropriately because the invoices didn’t provide details of the trips.” (Source: Voice of OC, January 27.)

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