What Comes After Farce?
The quest for a new St. Louis County Auditor has entered a phase that is hard to name.
For a long time, the county had a county auditor. That part is the history. In 2017, the county hired a new auditor who, unfortunately, had no experience with auditing. That part is the tragedy. In the ensuing four years, the auditor has not 1) demonstrated growth in the job, nor 2) hired talented assistance, nor 3) resigned, but has continued to serve as the auditor of the largest county in Missouri without performing any audits. Let me repeat this, the auditor’s office does no audits. This, obviously, has been the farce.
But the latest turn is that the St. Louis County Council has finally decided to replace the auditor, and, lo and behold, it’s proving difficult to find anyone to take the position. That is the part that is yet to be named.
There are hundreds of millions of dollars coming into St. Louis County government from COVID stimulus, on top of the billion-dollar budget it already has. The county needs a qualified auditor and appropriate staff to help oversee that money and account for it. There have been at least two major embezzlement scandals in county government that I can remember, and that does not even count Steve Stenger’s various issues.
The county council offered the job to someone, but the person turned it down, even though the candidate had gone through the entire application process. Precisely why the person refused is unknown. Whatever the council has to do to attract qualified candidates, it should consider it. Raise the pay? If necessary, fine. Remove the CPA requirement? Fine (but keep the auditor certification requirements). Lower the pension vesting rules? Well, no, keep those as they are. Most importantly, just make sure whoever gets the job can document a history of doing real audits of government bodies or closely related things (such as large businesses).
But do what it takes to get someone in that office who can property do the job. Until that happens, I don’t know what to call the phase the county is in.