Press Release from Ed Day
County Executive Candidate and County Legislator Ed Day has announced a plan aimed at increasing independent advice and oversight over the fiscal and budgetary process in Rockland County.
“Rockland County currently has an appointed position of county auditor authorized, but the county executive and the legislative majority have failed to fill that position,” Day said. “Even worse, the position’s job description, beyond stating that he or she ‘shall audit financial records’ and perform ‘other and related duties as required,’ is incredibly vague. Worse still, the qualifications required are none – only that the Auditor ‘be appointed based on experience and qualifications.’”
Day believes that the problem is twofold – the government has failed to fill a key slot to bring strong fiscal guidance and recommendations to the County and, even if it is filled, the current description makes it nothing more than a patronage job.
“In order to give our budget deficit and revenue troubles the attention they deserve, we must fill the position and make it one of an independent professional devoted full-time to tracking our county’s fiscal situation,” Day stated.
With this as an introduction, he proposed the following changes to the position:
– The county auditor must have a BA in Finance or Accounting, along with either a CPA or an MBA in Finance or Accounting.
– The county auditor would be appointed by the county executive and approved by the legislature to a fixed term, subject to removal as delineated in the county charter or Public Officers law.
– This fixed term would begin immediately upon creation for the first “new” county auditor, and end on December 31, 2014. From that point onward, the county auditor would run in four year terms beginning from January 1, 2015, so that they are staggered at two-year intervals with the county executive in order to ensure their independence from the administration.
– In order to prevent a career patronage appointment, each county auditor would be limited to one four-year term.
– The duties of the county auditor would be amended to be as follows:
o Audit the financial records and accounts of all units of county government charged with any duty relating to the funds of the county or for which the county is responsible on an at least quarterly basis
o Reconcile and approve estimates of tax revenue in the annual budget prior to its submission
o Provide and publicly publish a monthly opinion as to the fiscal state of county government as regards debt servicing, revenue trends, and expenditures
o Provide publicly-available estimates of the fiscal and revenue impact on county government for any measure introduced by the Legislature involving appropriation of funds prior to its approval by the Legislature
o Provide as-needed advice and opinions to the county executive as to the fiscal impact of any measure or proposal or measure as he so requests
Day stated that he believed that taking and repurposing an existing county position is both a budget-conscious way to bring increased accountability to the budget process and the day-to-day financial operations of the county, and that with his modifications it will be the kind of strong and independent voice of rational fiscal thought the county clearly needs.
“This does not replace the oversight of elected officials – the ultimate responsibility for success lies in the question of who is in office and whether they can be trusted to properly manage the people’s money,” Day continued. “But importantly, it gives a professional view of things unbeholden to the system – something no patronage appointee or an elected comptroller worried about their career in politics could ever do properly.”
Day said that while the campaign continues, he will push legislation forward on this subject, and if elected it will be part of the first package of proposed reform legislation and policies he puts forward.