Glendale councilmembers questioned their own transparency as a proposal to eliminate the city’s internal auditor position and create an independent internal audit program and audit committee passed with a 5-2 vote May 14.
The current independent auditor, Candace MacLeod, has been in the position since 2001. Beginning July 1, however, the new program will take her place.
Barrel District Councilman Bart Turner and Ocotillo District Councilman Jamie Aldama were the lone dissenting votes.
City Manager Kevin Phelps said the new program will prove more public oversight of the auditing process. It will also allow the city to do more audits, he said.
The new audit manager will report to each department’s director, all the way up to the city manager as well as to the new audit committee. The audit committee will report to the city council and will perform risk assessments as well as recommend which audits should be performed. Council will have final approval on their recommendations.
Staff’s original proposal had the city manager and budget and finance director as voting members of the new committee, but Turner was quick to criticize that decision.
“I am concerned we have more councilmembers than public members on audit committee, and I believe it should be the opposite — more qualified and experienced members of the community than councilmembers,” Turner said.
While city staff said the goal is to perform 17 to 18 outside audits each year, Turner said he had not been contacted about changes regarding the internal auditor.
“All expert input and community members at large have been recommending against making this change, which is why I (voted against it),” Turner said.
Turner also said he believes city leaders have not given councilmembers enough information to make changes to the audit process.
“I do now and always thought an independent audit committee would be wise and prudent to do, and benefit our community,” Turner said. “I support retaining an internal independent auditor (position) as we have it now and not changing over to an audit program.”
And he said he had not been given exact information on what the committee or program manager positions would require.
“I have yet to receive as far as I can find, a job description or qualification of one audit program manager,” Turner explained. “There is no provision for our ethic hotline, and that should be part of it.
“Plus, we may be at a risk of several months of having no auditor, program manager or committee, and I don’t like how that could play out, nor the concern for the audit function.”
The new program will not raise the city budget. Rather, the previous internal auditor’s salary, approximately $151,000, will be used to offset the estimated $256,000 for the new program.
City staff said all committee meetings will be open to the public. Most audit information will be available, but parts will remain confidential when final reports are released.