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Grand jury: City in line with disposal of surplus
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LATHROP – If you’re a government agency, getting rid of stuff isn’t as easy as just taking it to the dump.

And for the better part of two years the City of Lathrop has been going back and forth with the San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury on whether its policies governing the disposal of surplus and unused real property fall within the existing legal boundaries as defined by the State of California.

Bottom line – Lathrop says yes and the county tentatively agrees.

According to a report that was included in a grand jury compilation, during a five-year stretch from 2007 through 2012, Lathrop disposed of only one thing deemed “surplus” – a vehicle that was no longer needed.

An entire structure had already been set in place to govern and oversee the entire process and make it both transparent and legal in the eyes of the state. The grand jury also found, during that investigation (all municipalities in San Joaquin County were looked into during that period), that Lathrop had an existing paper trail for any of the transactions that were made or in the process of being made.

The last back-and-forth communication between the city and the grand jury came in February when City Attorney Sal Navarrete sent back a response stating that the county’s requirements clearly outline that cities must have policy language in place that lines up with existing state law and that Lathrop’s does just that – requiring no additional changes to the municipal code or action on behalf of the council.

Why must the grand jury get involved in whether something qualifies as surplus?

According to online documents, cities in the past have been found to be guilty of determining things to be surplus when they really weren’t in order to make them available for vendors that wanted to get them at a massively discounted rate or other agencies as a de facto form of payment.

No San Joaquin County government agency has ever been accused of such, and the move by the grand jury is strictly to get in front of any issues that may arise in the future.

The Lathrop City Council meets tonight at Lathrop City Hall, located at 390 Towne Center Drive. To get there take Louise Avenue west of the I-5 underpass and turn left on Golden Valley Parkway. Make a right on Towne Center Drive. The building will be on the left.