A rift may be brewing between two of Fresno County’s top officials.
Fresno County Assessor-Recorder Paul Dictos recently fired off a stern letter to Nathan Magsig, Fresno County supervisor, complaining that County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau is retaliating against him.
Dictos, in a July 9 letter, wrote that Rousseau “remains extremely upset that he had to dip into the County’s reserves to return to the Recorder funds that had been illegally diverted for many years to the general fund...”
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The county had to pay back $970,000 to the Assessor-Recorder’s office last year after Dictos exposed the practice. For several years, money collected for recording documents such as marriage licenses and real estate transfers was being redirected to the county’s general fund.
Although Dictos oversees the Assessor-Recorder’s office, he said the problem was happening before he was elected.
Dictos alleges Rousseau directed the county’s Auditor-Controller to audit his department, in order to get back at him,
“The CAO’s directive to the (Auditor-Controller) was wholly unjustified and not based on any facts or evidence.” Dictos wrote.
Rousseau denied he’s out to get anybody. He said the subject of auditing the Assessor-Recorder’s office came up during a routine meeting of the county’s Audit Committee. The committee was identifying which departments were due for an audit to ensure they are operating efficiently and correctly.
Rousseau admits he recommended Dictos’ department, but only because it had issues in the past. The committee had been discussing several other departments, but not the Assessor-Recorder.
“This not a witch hunt or a personal vendetta in any way shape or form, “ Rousseau said. “I just want to make sure we can avoid this type of mess again.”
Magsig, who chairs the county’s audit committee, said he was surprised at the tone of the letter, but offered Dictos the opportunity to share his concerns with the committee. He is open to the possibility of having an outside company audit the Assessor-Recorder’s office, a suggestion raised by Dictos.
“I recognize that everyone has a different lens that they see things through and I take all concerns seriously,” Magsig said. “And if Paul wants to come forward to discuss it, I would welcome that.”