LARGO - From what is being written and said about the idea of an internal auditor for the city, it is obvious that the bulk of people opining on the subject do not have a clear understanding of what an internal auditor is and does.
But even before the commission gets to the nub of the question, jockeying and positioning has been going on among commission members.
Comments at a recent meeting and an e-mail exchange, through the secretary of the commission, reveal that the issue is taking on stature.
The idea of an internal auditor is not new. Curtis Holmes, a citizen, brought it up a couple of months ago. Opponents allege it was turned down by voters in a referendum last year.
But what voters turned down was probably what they understood to be a bean-counter, check-the-books job, a position already very well handled by Kim Adams.
Material supplied by Holmes to the commission explained that an internal auditor is much more than someone who adds up columns of figures to see if the math is correct.
Holmes's initial talk of the idea was quickly brushed off but when he brought it up again in mid June the subject was received by a very nervous Steve Stanton, the city manager, and Alan Zimmet, the city's lawyer.
They quickly shot down the idea. They obviously do not want an independent hireling looking into city business, even though there is no evidence or suggestion that anything illegal is taking place.
Holmes sent the commission detailed information from the authoritative National Association of Local Government Auditors on what an internal auditor is and a model law of how to implement it.
When Stanton quickly scheduled a workshop on the subject, and loaded the commissioners down with a 36-page version of his argument against the idea, Commissioners Rodney Woods and Gigi Arntzen managed to get any discussion put off.
Too much material to digest in too short a time, they said, and thus torpedoed any Stanton maneuver to bring the subject up, get it quickly shot down and move on.
Internal auditors are commonplace in many Florida municipal and county governments. The auditor would provide accountability for management's performance. There is no real close monitoring of this now.
An auditor would assure that the city operates in accordance with laws, rules, regulations and policies, would respond to citizens' needs, would assure that the city is functioning economically, efficiently and effectively.
In addition, an auditor would determine the extent to which goals, desired results and benefits established by the commission are being achieved.
Last week, Arntzen and Commissioner Mary Black had an e-mail exchange in which they warily sketched out their feelings.
Arntzen wants to talk about it later because more study is needed. Black said that budget considerations should be brought into play. That is, provisional funds should be made available if the commission decides to engage an auditor. Arntzen said that if such an idea is approved it can be very easily managed within the budget.
More significantly, Mayor Pat Gerard's comments on the internal auditor idea revealed that she had not the faintest idea of what the position was.
She pointed out that the city is audited each year under mandate of state law and "passes with flying colors."
Gerard, who has said she does not have time for a lot of the duties mayor's are routinely saddled with, confused a bean counter with a watchdog.
They are not the same.
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