Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Lindsay Crocker's Profile

Email: lcrocker06 (at) gmail (dot) com
Lindsay is currently working at Windermere Mortgage. She graduated from Western Washington University in 2010 with degrees in History and Political Science. Her main subjects of study were ancient history and American political thought.

She was a member of the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society and graduated with distinction from the History Department. During school Lindsay worked as an intern for a U.S. Congressman and coached a Middle School Volleyball team.

She also worked for many summers at YMCA Camp Orkila on Orcas Island as a Cabin Counselor and Director. Lindsay is originally from Issaquah, Washington. She enjoys reading, camping, travelling, and playing with her dog Dublin. Lindsay is now living in Seattle and loving city life.

Lindsay Crocker's Recent Posts

Audit: Soap Lake Didn’t Collect Up To $515,000 In Utility Fees

March 4th, 2011

SUMMARY: Due to a combination of frequent turnover in the position of city clerk, and the introduction of new billing software which decreased city oversight of utility account classification changes and resulting billing rates, the City of Soap Lake, Wash. failed to collect as much as $515,000 in utility revenues which it was owed, from 2005 to late 2010. The findings come in a state audit issued this week.

BACKGROUND: The Central Washington city of Soap Lake, population 1,790, is governed by an elected seven-member council and mayor. The utilities provided by the city include water, Soap Lake water, sewer, and garbage. For billing purposes, customers are divided into three main classifications, each with a different rate: residential, commercial-residential, and commercial. Different utility rates are charged to each customer classification. This audit is based city on financial records covering the period from January 2, 2008 through December 31, 2009, but the findings extend from 2005 to 2010.

KEY LINK: Accountability Audit Report, City of Soap Lake, Wash., Washington State Auditor’s office, issued February 28, 2011.

KEY FINDINGS

  • The city changed its utility rates in 2005 when two related ordinances were passed, but didn’t update account classifications until October 2010, leaving some new revenues uncollected. A combination of frequent turnover in the city clerk’s position in the last five years, combined with the 2008 introduction of new utility billing software which employees failed to master, led to under-billing. The net effect was that city let customers self-report adjustments in the billing category classifications of their properties for five years.
  • The audit reviewed 26 adjustments made in 2008 and 2009 and found no supporting documentation other than brief comments. Nine of the adjustments appeared to be not warranted based on histories of the accounts. Untracked adjustments or unsupported variances totaled $112,500 in 2008 and $191,400 in 2009.
  • The under-billing may have cost the city as much as $103,00 per year from 2005 through 2010, or $515,000, if the accounts had been properly classified, according to estimates by the state auditor’s office. The city billed $714,000 for utilities in 2008 and $734,000 in 2009. Its annual budgets in those years were $3.6 million and $3.9 million.
  • The State Auditor recommends that the City begin the process to properly classify customer accounts immediately, ensure that all City employees have a full understanding of the new billing system, create and maintain documentation to support account classifications, and print and review reports following all account adjustments to guarantee accuracy and completeness.
  • The City of Soap Lake responded, conceding the possibility that revenues it was due went uncollected but stating its belief that all accounts are now properly classified. The City also created adjustment logs to manually document account changes. The affected property owners were notified and the City allowed them to offer comments on the situation at several council meetings. The council then approved a new ordinance which more clearly defines the different billing classifications.

UW Study: Licensing Foreign-Trained Dentists In WA Doesn’t Boost Access For Vulnerable Populations

February 14th, 2011

SUMMARY: Forty-nine million U.S. residents live in federally-designated dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), typically rural or low-income areas where care is often provided through public health insurance programs such as Medicaid. One potential solution explored has been to continue to recruit and accept foreign-trained dentists for licensing at U.S. dental schools in hopes more of them will opt to work with vulnerable populations in dental HPSAs. A Washington state case study addressing this possibility was recently published – in a one of a family of prominent open-access online medical journals – by University of Washington researchers. The study does not support the hypothesis that foreign-trained dentists licensed in the U.S. are more likely than domestically-trained dentists to choose a practice in a geographic area with a high proportion of Medicaid patients and a low proportion of dentists to population. Factors may include student debt and salary differentials. Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. Birth Rate Hits New Low In ‘09, Cesareans Peak

February 3rd, 2011

SUMMARY: The U.S. crude birth rate – live births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 – reached an historic low of 13.5 in 2009. The birth rate for all age groups decreased in 2009 except for women aged 40-44 years. The birth rate for U.S. teenagers fell to historic lows. The birth rate for unmarried women declined by almost 4 percent, but children born to unmarried women now represent a higher percentage of total births than in 2008. The rate of cesarean deliveries rose to 32.9 percent in 2009, setting a record high in the U.S. Rates of preterm births and low birthweight showed a slight decline in 2009 after their steep rise from the 1980s to 2006.

BACKGROUND: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) collects data each year regarding birth rates and selected maternal and infant health characteristics. This includes data on age, race, origin, and marital status as well as information regarding rates of preterm deliveries, low birth rate, and cesarean deliveries. These annual reports highlight trends in these categories by comparing the current data to data from previous years. The data in this report is based on 99.95 percent of registered vital records from 2009.

KEY LINK: “Births: Preliminary Data For 2009,”National Vital Statistics Report, National Center For Health Statistics, U.S. Centers For Disease Control, 12/21/10

KEY FINDINGS:

  • The Crude Birth Rate (live births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years) declined by four percent since 2008 to 13.5 per 1,000 in 2009. It is the lowest birth rate ever recorded in the history of the U.S.
  • The General Fertility Rate (GFR) for women between the ages of 15 and 44 declined by three percent since 2008. This is a reverse in a recent trend of increasing GFR from 2006 to 2008.
  • The 2009 U.S. teenage birth rate for teenagers aged 15-19 years decreased by six percent since 2008. This marked the lowest teenage birth rate in the U.S. since 1940.
  • In 2009 the birth rate for women aged 20-24 years fell seven percent and the number of births per woman also decreased, down by four percent from 2008 levels.
  • The rate for women aged 25-29 fell four percent when compared to 2008 birth rates.
  • The birth rate for women aged 30-34 years dropped by two percent, and rates for women aged 35-39 years also dropped, down 1% from 2008 rates.
  • The birth rate for women aged 40-44 rose three percent. This is the only age group with a higher birth rate when compared to 2008 rates. This is also the highest birth rate for this age group recorded in the U.S. since 1967.
  • The birth rate for women aged 45-49 years was unchanged (i.e. not statistically different).
  • The birth rate for unmarried women declined by almost four percent. This is the first decline in this category on record since 2002. However, the proportion of all births to unmarried women increased. This means that unmarried women are having proportionally more children when compared to married women than they were in 2008.
  • The cesarean delivery rate was 32.9 percent in 2009. This is an increase of 2% from 2008. It is the highest rate in U.S. history.
  • The preterm birth rate showed a small decline from 2008 levels. This is the third straight year of decline after rates of preterm infants rose by more than one-third from 1981 to 2006.
  • The low birthweight rate (LBW) also showed a small decline in 2009, continuing a trend of slight decline since 2006. This small drop comes after LBW increased more than 20 percent between the mid 1980s and 2006.