The future of the City of Lawrence auditor’s office does not look good.
Although no outright statement has been made saying the office is being defunded, that appears to be the situation.
For readers who have not followed this saga in our blog, here’s a short version of the story. In spring 2016, Tom Markus, the new Lawrence City Manager, suggested eliminating the one-person audit office. The City Commission did not agree and the position was funded.
In 2017, City Manager Markus tried again. He submitted his 2018 budget with 11 positions eliminated. Ten of the axed positions were vacant. The city auditor position was the only one that was filled.
The Association of Local Government Auditors has sent letters arguing for the importance of performance auditing and we have discussed the Lawrence situation and the importance of government auditing in this blog and in a not-yet-published column for Governing magazine. On June 14, the Lawrence Journal-World ran an editorial which called the city auditor’s office valuable, suggesting that “Perhaps the City of Lawrence should elevate — instead of eliminate — the role of city auditor.”
Michael Eglinski, who has been Lawrence auditor since 2008, made a valiant fight to communicate the importance of his position. But the uncertainty of his job future was understandably difficult. He resigned in July to take a job as senior auditor with Johnson County Audit Services. (He says he likes his new job.)
The City Auditor website in Lawrence contains a note that the position is empty. But we checked on the city’s job search site and saw that no auditor position had been posted. At the August 1 City Commission meeting, commissioners had a “first reading” vote, in which they approved the proposed 2018 budget, which includes the cut of the 11 positions. There will be a second reading vote at the commission meeting tonight, in which we suspect that the City Commission will give final approval to the budget plan, including the cuts.
Funding could always be restored for this office in the future, but for now, it doesn’t appear likely that Lawrence will have a city auditor.
(The easiest way to locate our blog posts on the importance of performance auditing is to look at the subject guides to our blog posts in our resources section.)