An Elected, Independent Auditor

Yes on 20-283

If you want to save money and have open and accountable government, do your pocketbook and our democracy a favor and vote “Yes” on Ballot Measure 20-283. 

It will “establish an office of an elected city auditor to independently audit all city activities and expenditures.” The key is “independence.”  Without independence it’s just bureaucrats auditing themselves.

Successful government auditors are truly independent from the agencies they audit. Measure 20-283 guarantees the independence of the elected auditor because s/he will be accountable to the voters, and all the authority necessary to function independently and effectively within the city’s hierarchy is clearly spelled out in the measure.

Providing a minimum budget that can’t be manipulated by city officials protects the auditor’s office from cuts designed to constrain the auditor’s investigations, or from being penalized for an audit casting the city in an unflattering light. It keeps the auditor free from political pressure and interference. 

Don’t let opponents of 20-283 cynically scare you into voting against your own best interests — due to cost. In reality, the auditor’s office is appropriately scaled and funded to ensure there are adequate resources necessary to audit all city activities and expenditures (more than $1 billion annually). Based on national benchmarks for a Eugene-sized city, the office budget provides all expenses including salary for the elected auditor and three deputy auditors.

Measure 20-283 will not raise taxes — and every dollar invested in the auditor’s office can save or recover $4 to $5. There is plenty of money to fund the auditor’s office for decades in the existing city budget using money the city spends, without voter approval, on non-essential services every year.  

Just consider these eye-popping numbers from the last few years: $16.5 million (and another $1 million annually) from Comcast that disappeared into reserves; $7 million that magically materialized for train horn projects around ex-Mayor Brian Obie’s developments; $5 million to extend fiber optics benefiting downtown landlords; and $1.2 million per year to rent downtown city office space because they demolished City Hall. 

Then there’s $10 million for Capstone and $7 million in City Hall cost overruns and overpriced consulting contracts (tip of the iceberg, folks). City officials always find the money to pay for their pet projects. 

Elected auditors are career professionals — not career politicians. The elected auditor will have far more accountability than any other city official, elected or appointed. The auditor is a non-partisan, full-time position requiring rigorous professional qualifications and experience. She or he can be removed for cause.

Plus, 20-283 requires that all the auditor’s activities be regularly audited by accredited national auditing organizations. Those evaluations and all audit reports will be publicly available for you to see.

20-283’s independent elected auditor — free from political interference  — will ensure that scarce resources are judiciously spent and require transparency and accountability from city government. Vote “Yes” on 20-283.

Vote “No” on the city’s spoiler measure 20-287. It protects the city, not the taxpayer.

Bonny Bettman McCornack is a retired registered nurse, a former city councilor and one of three chief petitioners for 20-283.