Senate Panel Endorses Stefano/Ward Legislation to Allow State To Audit Municipal and County Authorities

Legislation that would give the state Auditor General stronger oversight over the financial operation of county and municipal authorities was approved today by the Senate Local Government Committee by a vote of 10-2, according to the bill’s sponsors, Senator Pat Stefano (R-32) and Senator Kim Ward (R-39).

Senate Bill 597 would authorize the Auditor General to conduct audits of county and municipal authorities – a responsibility that that state official currently does not have the ability to do.

“As a former chairman of a sewage authority, I believe that this oversight is needed,” Stefano added. “Currently, these accounts are only audited by a firm of the board’s choosing rather than an impartial agency trained in monitoring financial transactions. The knowledge of a possible audit by the Auditor General will not only ensure that authorities use best practices in their financial dealings, but serve as a deterrent to potential misuse and misallocation of any funds.”

“These authorities are entrusted with delivering vital services, including water, sewage and housing, and they receive significant tax funding from both local and state governments,” Ward said.  “However, the Auditor General must currently deny audit requests of these agencies because he is not authorized to conduct them.   This bill will give him this vital and necessary ability”

Ward and Stefano said their proposal has the support of Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who said the bills would give him the tools he needs to ensure that funds are used properly.

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