Supervisors to explore cutting audit committee

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Carson City supervisors could eliminate a committee this year that reviews city audits and financial accountability.

Supervisors will decide Thursday if the city should fill an open at-large position on the five-member Carson City Audit Committee. The city might not need the committee once Carson gets a new internal auditor, some supervisors say.

The audit committee would have only three members if the city didn't fill the open position. The committee is supposed to include two supervisors, the city finance director and two at-large members appointed by the board of supervisors.

Joe Eiben left one of the at-large positions open when he moved last month. One of the supervisor's positions also is open. No supervisor filled the position after former Supervisor Richard Staub had to leave the committee last year because he lost re-election.

The city has not had an auditor since the end of October when former Auditor Sue Johnson resigned. The city's charter requires the city to have a full-time or part-time auditor. The city has been advertising for an auditor since March.

Mayor Bob Crowell said he wants the board of supervisors to have an open discussion soon about the city's auditing process. This could include eliminating the audit committee, he said.

The city needs detailed reviews of how city money is spent and how well employees perform, but the city shouldn't duplicate work, he said.

"It seems to me that at first blush we many not need an audit review committee," he said.

Supervisor Robin Williamson also has said the city should consider eliminating the audit committee.

But Supervisor Pete Livermore, chairman of the audit committee, said the city needs the committee to assist the future auditor and review detailed reports to help supervisors.

The committee is important to an open city government, he said.

"No one likes an auditor and no one likes when the IRS comes to your home, but it's necessary to protect the public's resources," he said.

Johnson released the city's most recent audit in October. It said the business development office had spent redevelopment money without proper approval. Williamson and City Manager Larry Werner said the audit was unfounded because it ignored redevelopment powers granted under state law. No one was fired or punished because of the audit.

Werner said the city should keep its audit committee. Many cities use committees to support their auditors, he said.

The city might need to better define the duties and structure of the audit committee, he said.

The position of finance director needs to be removed, for instance, he said, because being on the committee can create a conflict of interest for the finance director.


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