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City auditor

October 29, 2011
The Marietta Times

Questions:

1. What updates or changes are needed in this office, if any? How would you go about that process?

2. What are the most important duties of auditor? What strengths do you have that make you a good fit for this position?

3. The auditor position is not required to be full-time. How often do you think you would work in the office?

Sherri Hess

Age: 51

Address: 705 Warren St.

Party: Republican

Occupation: Chief Deputy Auditor, Marietta City Auditor's Office

Offices held:?No previous public offices

1. An update needed in the office is an integrated budgetary and payroll computer system for the whole city, which will increase efficiency and be more cost effective. We have been looking into a new system for the past three years by attending, webinars, demonstrations and evaluating systems. Once the administration and departments agree what is best for the city and the funding is available it would be taken before City Council for approval to move forward.

2. The auditor is the Chief Fiscal Manager for our community's tax dollars. The auditor is responsible for preparing all the financial statements upon which our mayor, City Council, and department heads depend on for their operations. This position requires accepted accounting principles with all necessary checks and balances and maintains stringent internal controls over daily financial reporting. The auditor is essential in preparing budgets, forecasts, cost analysis, estimated revenues, meeting deadlines to avoid penalties, making sure all departments are compliant with the law along with overseeing the daily duties of the office, receipting all monies from various departments, payroll and all associated payroll reports, accounts payable, purchase orders, transfer deeds, cemetery deeds, and budget revisions. I believe my record (30 years) of experience and knowledge in the auditor's office speaks well for me. I have held every position in the auditor's office and have served as the Chief Deputy Auditor since January 1996 and have been a very loyal and trustworthy employee with an excellent attendance record. Throughout my career I have had a great rapport with numerous administrations, council, department heads and employees under which I have served. I am experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable, and I have the proven history and ability to run the auditor's office in an effective, efficient, responsible manner. My knowledge has well prepared me for the responsibility of ensuring that the city is compliant with all financial procedures according to the Ohio Revised Code.

3. I will be a full-time working auditor as well as attending evening meetings and any additional time that would be needed. I will do whatever it takes to get the job done including training staff and will continue to work with everyone to have a better and brighter future for the City of Marietta.

Dana Singer

Age:?33

Party:?Independent

Occupation: Citizen, veteran

Offices held:?No previous public offices

1. The office needs fresh eyes, a new perspective and comprehensive updating to help push us through this recession and to ensure that we come out the other side a stronger more efficient community. Currently, the office is decades behind and uses antiquated accounting practices. These systems are very inefficient and time consuming, distracting the office from the important priorities of contract analysis and revenue oversight. I am going to make the updates necessary to improve efficiency so I can spend my time doing more valuable things like auditing the out-of-town contractors working on our city projects, to make sure they are in compliance and are paying their share of taxes here just like the rest of us.

I also intend to focus on making the city's finances transparent for our citizens. The money that the city government spends belongs to all of us, there should be no opportunity for doubt. I believe that all our citizens should have access to the information that shows where their money goes in a way that can be understood without an accountant. I will make all the city's finances public in an easy to understand format for all citizens to review.

2. In general the auditor oversees the finances of the city for the citizens and should ensure compliance with the revised code. The auditor is responsible for ensuring that local government is accountable, transparent and efficient. An auditor should conduct audits covering the full range of local government performance. The auditor's office should provide public access to the city's financial information. The auditor is also responsible for overseeing the city's payroll and accounts payable, asset tracking and deed recording.

I have proven military leadership skills, discipline and a vested interest in public service, combined with an extensive investment in education and training along with a proven track record of always going above and beyond basic requirements.

Checks and balances are important. Being an independent candidate, I accept no party money and I do not have any obligations to either party. This will allow me to be completely autonomous as your auditor.

A majority of the city's finances involve contracts, who better to oversee the office than someone who has formal legal training in reading, interpreting and analyzing contracts? Mr. Mohr was correct in that we have differing views of the role of a city auditor. The standards the office currently operates under are the minimum. The minimum required to be followed by law. I see the role as so much more. The auditor has the authority to conduct independent audits to ensure that out-of-town contractors working on our large-scale city projects are paying the same taxes that we are required to pay. The treasurer can not answer whether or not these outfits were in compliance, or whether the hotel/bed tax has been adequately accounted for, and acknowledged that it is within the authority of the auditor to take such initiative and that it has not been done citing a lack of time.

Currently, valuable time is wasted on the tedious clerical tasks like doing payroll by hand and using inefficient accounting software from the 70's in the Auditor's office. That is not acceptable; the office needs to be updated to make it run efficiently so they can fill the important role of monitoring the city government's financial performance. In studying other cities and the roles their auditors' fill, ours is not operating at full potential for our citizens and I am willing to promise better than the status quo. That means thinking outside the box, having a long-term vision and bringing the tools and leadership skills to make it happen.To learn more about my background and my vision for the office go to www.danasingerformariettacityauditor.com

3. After discussions with the Chillicothe City Auditor, I am anticipating the need to spend between 55-60 hours a week, or longer when necessary for council and committee meetings, as I want to be active and included in all aspects of the governments operations so I can maintain a comprehensive assessment of all the city's current business practices. I worked 12 on 12 off during both deployments; so long stressful days are nothing new to me. We need to start having honest discussions among citizens, NGO's, and government to determine best practices in order to achieve the best outcomes. We need more accountability and less doubt, so it will take time and extra hours to get where we need to be and then to implement independent audits, increase transparency and efficiency and to work with the individual departments to identify any areas that can be improved upon. There is a lot to be said for a fresh perspective on some long overdue solutions. I have that fresh perspective and am willing to put in as many hours as it takes to get our auditor's office up to par and beyond.

 
 
 

 

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