Commissioner Lee May is recommending that the five auditors in the county’s finance department be put under the direction of the Board of Commissioners.
“It’s within our duties and responsibilities within DeKalb County’s organizational act for the Board of Commissioners to provide the auditing function,” May said. “Historically, it’s been done under the administration.”
Currently, all external and internal audits are performed or overseen by the administration.
“That’s asking the administration to handle the day-to-day operations of the county, to also audit its own operations, to disclose the findings of those audits and then implement the changes that need to occur,” May said. “That’s a lot to ask of any organization and there are no checks and balances.”
May’s proposal was made during a Jan. 26 meeting of the Board of Commissioners’ finance, audit and budget committee, which is meeting weekly to review DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis’ proposed 2012 budget of $547.3 million.
The proposal, which is 1.2 percent higher than the 2011 budget and contains no tax increase and no county employee furlough days, also includes funding for all county holidays, a lower-cost healthcare option for county employees and implementation of a recently announced home-buying initiative and jobs stimulus program tied to a billion-dollar water-sewer improvement plan.
The Board of Commissioners is set to adopt a budget in its Feb. 28 meeting.
May said he made the proposal during the budget process “so that we can be responsible for the auditing function.”
“When you deal with auditing it needs to be as open and free and unfettered as possible,” May said. “Since we don’t handle the day-to-day operations of this government, we should be undertaking those functions.”
County Finance Director Joel Gottlieb said moving the auditors would eliminate his entire audit staff, “but it does not eliminate the functions that [they] have to perform.”
The auditors “do various financial audits and some operational audits that are required by our annual audit,” Gottlieb said.
The county should be augmenting the staff, not reducing it, Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb said that about 25 percent of the auditors’ time is spent on the county’s annual audit.
During the meeting, the commissioners and the representatives from the administration agreed to come up with a feasible plan for putting auditors under the Board of Commissioners.
“We’ll work it out,” said Richard Stogner, the county’s chief operating officer.
The commissioners’ finance committee will be meeting with county department heads during two all-day sessions on Feb. 2 and Feb. 9. Department heads are being asked to present alternatives to their proposed budgets, which have cuts of five and 10 percent.
Stogner said commissioners should expect the county’s constitutional officers to ask for additional funds in the 2012 budget.