California Gov. Jerry Brown Tuesday signed a bill that will strengthen the state auditor’s oversight of local governments in the wake of the scandal surrounding the city of Bell.

AB 187, sponsored by Assembly Member Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, gives the auditor the ability to include local governments in a report issued by the Bureau of State Audits every two years that identifies agencies and programs at risk for abuse.

However, the audit will not be required to include local governments.

The bill “provides the state auditor with the capacity to examine high-risk situations before they become explosive and taxpayers are left holding the bag,” Lara said in a statement Tuesday.

He said the measure came to fruition partly as a result of the problems in Bell.

The previously obscure city in Los Angeles County was thrust into the spotlight last year by press reports that it was paying its city administrator at the time, Robert Rizzo, about $800,000 a year.

The fallout since then has included civil and criminal charges against Rizzo, four City Council members, and other members of Bell’s management team. They are accused of misappropriating millions of dollars from the city of 40,000.

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