Everyone knows farmers’ markets are prime places for bureaucratic waste and government graft, and ergo must be investigated thoroughly — even if it is at the expense of thoroughly investigating a beleaguered, running-in-the-red transit agency. Right?
We suspect you disagree with the above statement — and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors disagrees, too: a committee on Tuesday voiced support for delaying an audit of the Alemany Boulevard Farmers’ Market until after budget season, so that the first audit of the Municipal Transportation Agency — better known as Muni’s administrative body — can be completed by May 1.
The Farmers’ Market is the only one of San Francisco’s 19 that is directly managed by the city, in this case the city’s Real Estate department. For its part, the MTA has not received a management audit since the mid-1990s.
Audits are conducted by an outside agency (Harvey Rose and Associates). The agency has only a limited amount of hours it may dedicate to city-ordered audits or analyses, and the MTA audit is expected to take at least 1500 hours, or put another way, about $150,000.
The board receives about 17,000 hours annually of analysis, from detailed details about the budget to a fiscal impact of just about every piece of legislation. About 4,500 of those hours are set aside for audits.
Budget analyst staff said Tuesday it would struggle to finish the Muni audit by May 1, the start of beloved budget season. In order to be useful for budget considerations — which would be handy given the massive budget deficit — analyst staff would either have to limit the scope of their work on the MTA audit or abandon other projects.
The Alemany Farmers’ Market audit would take only 350 workhours, about a fifth of the time of Muni’s, but that delay could still be significant. That audit’s sponsor, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, was not on hand Tuesday so a decision on that audit was delayed, though all indicators seemed that — at least for now — buses and trains would trump beets and chard.
The farmers’ audit is a worthy project but could probably wait until the summertime, after budget season, noted Supervisor David Campos, who called for the Muni audit.