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Seven Firms Competing For SANDAG Investigation Contract

Photo by Matthew Bowler

A protester holds a sign reading "No Way Measure A" at a demonstration against the SANDAG tax proposal in National City, Sept. 22, 2016.

The San Diego Association of Governments is still grappling with the fallout from its overly-optimistic revenue projections for a failed tax measure last year. Now, a small group of elected officials are sorting through seven proposals by outside firms to investigate the scandal.

Seven private firms are competing for a contract to investigate the San Diego Association of Governments and why it failed to notify voters of faulty revenue projections for an unsuccessful tax measure last year.

The investigation was commissioned by the SANDAG board of directors last month. On March 10, the agency's executive committee voted to solicit proposals from private firms with experience in similar investigations, and the application window closed last Friday.

RELATED: Did SANDAG Withhold Information Ahead Of Tax Hike Vote?

Del Mar Mayor Terry Sinnott, who serves as vice chair of the SANDAG board and is part of the three-member subcommittee reviewing the proposals, said he and his colleagues would be making their recommendation based on price, references and experience.

"I think there's a very strong desire to be very transparent so that everybody who has an interest in this or concern about it can see what the review found out so we can all learn from it," he said.

Sinnott said he could not reveal the names of the seven firms that had applied until the subcommittee had made its recommendation. Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and San Diego City Council President Myrtle Cole are the other two elected officials reviewing the proposals.

RELATED: SANDAG Admits To Overestimating What It Would Collect From Tax Hike

Last year SANDAG told voters that Measure A, a countywide half-cent sales tax, would raise $18 billion over its 40-year lifespan. But investigations by Voice of San Diego revealed the numbers were overly optimistic because of an error in SANDAG's economic forecasting model, meaning the measure's timeline for funding new transportation projects was likely unrealistic.

The roots of the error were uncovered by SANDAG staff in late 2015, but neither SANDAG board members nor voters were made aware. Measure A won approval from 58 percent of voters — far short of the necessary two-thirds majority it needed to pass.

Sinnott noted that in addition to the independent investigation, SANDAG board members also approved revisions to the agency's internal processes to make its revenue forecasting more transparent.

"We're working on a number of different fronts to improve the process and give everybody a complete understanding of how we do things and what's going on," he said.

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