- Published on Friday, 17 February 2012 14:34
Does Elk City require a state audit? No. Should Elk Citians want an audit? Yes. I am writing this editorial because this topic is dear to my heart just like our Elk City community is. When I was elected as Commissioner of Ward 3, I spoke with my constituents and learned that there was not a lot of trust in Government, local or national. I felt the same way as they did. I wondered if all the proper processes and channels were being followed as required by our charter and state law. After starting on the commission I requested financials in particular from some of our city’s profit centers. In one instance, when the city was selling one of them, I was given three sets of numbers detailing its value. This was not a small difference in value either. In fact, the difference involved more than ten times the amount estimated for conduction of the state audit. I feel this is unacceptable. I think we finally got the right value together to properly evaluate this profit center to set a dollar amount when the commission voted unanimously to sell this system. I hope we did. Our employees were not hiding anything, but our processes and book keeping practices allowed for transactions to show in different places, thus making it hard to have accurate numbers. Our constituents deserve better accountability of their money.
Since coming on board there have been numerous changes to our local government processes. I believe these changes have been positive. They have given our city employees better tools and knowledge to conduct their jobs. These processes have also produced a more open and fiscally responsible government. Our employees at Elk City are some of the brightest and most experienced people in the state and even the nation. They have been given more tools, have been trained to pull more numbers from our systems, and are able to present a snapshot of our finances to any citizen that may ask in the blink of an eye, now. When I began my career in City government I requested certain information and it took weeks to get information. This particularly bothered me because I knew if it took that amount of time to get a commissioner these statements, then it would be the same amount of time to supply the requested information to any member of the public. Since these changes, I have observed positive changes in our bidding process which have resulted in countless tax dollars being saved by causing merchants local and abroad to sharpen their pencils and to produce the best value for our city. I have seen more accountability to the city manager’s office by restricting funds to his office and having the commission decide on large purchases for our city. In essence our manager is representing the citizens now without having a blank check. These checks and balances are now a concrete part of the basis for our system.
As quoted to me, the cost for this audit is estimated at $60,000. Sure $60,000 is a lot of money for anyone, but what are the potential gains for spending this money? My answer is that it is priceless. I believe there should be accountability down to the last penny. Our city’s last treasurer’s report for tax collections over a one month period came in over $1,300,000. There are sufficient funds to pay for an audit. This is less than a half of one percent of the city’s annual revenue. The real question is can we afford not to ask for a state audit of our finances? If it brings one oversight to light, it could save the city many times the amount of the audit. If one mistake is found, will there be more accountability? Yes. Will spending less than one half of one percent tear our city apart? No. I believe it will bring our city closer together by instilling more trust in our government, and if deficiencies arise, we will be taught exactly how to correct these matters. The system of, “that’s the way we have always done it,” is not always the correct manner of conducting business. Let’s all come together and embrace this learning opportunity and give our new city manager a clean slate. This will allow our government to operate without many questions my constituents have asked of me.
All of these reasons are why I have signed the petition requesting a state audit. If our citizens have questions about our operating processes, I feel the questions need to be answered. I hope anyone with questions will join me by signing the petition and holding accountable the government that uses our tax dollars to fund their operations.
Commissioner, Ward 3