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Hofstede restores third internal watchdog

Posted by: Steve Brandt under Politics and government, Public records Updated: December 7, 2011 - 4:33 PM

In her first try at restoring an auditor whose job is threatened by budget cuts, City Council member Diane Hofstede could only muster her own vote. But the second try was the winner.

It's not that some on the panel weren't sympathetic to her proposal. They just didn't like how she came up with the money on her first go-round.

Hofstede wanted to shift $60,000 from the city's Neighborhood and Community Relations Department to keep the city from eliminating one of its three auditors. The problem is that much of that department's money is restricted by state law to neighborhood purposes.  The portions that are financed by the city's general fund, such as working with immigrant and ethnic communities or issues for the disabled, are close to the hearts of council members.

Mayor R.T. Rybak proposed eliminating an auditor in his 2012 budget because the post was open between one employee's depature and the hiring of a successor.  An outside review committee of auditors recommended in 2009 that the city employ a minimum of three auditors to guard against mismanagement and fraud.  Hofstede emphasized that need.

She got the onetime money when she proposed that the money be shifted from a mobile computing project for city employees.

Some internal city services, such as human resource or computing services, are billed back to departments.  But committee chair Betsy Hodges said the city doesn't bill that way for audit services in part to keep a distance between the auditor and the agency being audited.

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