City & County of Honolulu

Council panel advances
auditor issue

By Mary Vorsino

The city is one step closer to having its own auditor after a City Council committee meeting yesterday.

In a 7-1 vote, with Councilman Steve Holmes dissenting, the Executive Matters Committee pushed a charter amendment forward that would establish a city auditor position and office.

The amendment will go to the full Council on July 17 and, if passed by a two-thirds vote and approved by Mayor Jeremy Harris, would be on November's ballots for a final decision by Oahu voters.

Councilwomen Ann Kobayashi and Darrlyn Bunda both had reservations about the amendment and said that another amendment, which would have created an auditing office within the existing Office of Council Services, and which Holmes voted for, had some points of merit.

Kobayashi said: "I tend to favor the other resolution. The Office of Council Services is a very independent office, and I feel that they would be very capable and qualified to have a research and audit section within that office.

"I think it would actually be more efficient."

Councilman Jon Yoshimura initiated both amendments this year -- the independent city auditor resolution in January, and the other in April.

He did that to give the Council two different models to consider, he said.

But he preferred the earlier amendment because of the "inherent conflict of interest" in an internal auditor's office, he said.

"We can probably do no more important thing to ensure the stability of our city government than to pass this resolution and put it before the voters."

State Auditor Marion Higa told committee members yesterday that independence is essential to the proper function of an auditor's office. She did not give her opinion on either of the amendments but said that her office was most like the independent office.

Under the resolution, the city auditor would be appointed by the City Council for a six-year term. The auditor could be removed by a two-thirds vote from the Council.

In 1998 the city Charter Commission tabled a proposal that would have created a position for a city auditor.

Harris, late yesterday, said through a spokeswoman that he has not yet made up his mind whether to support an auditor's office.

"There needs to be a careful evaluation of the budgetary costs of any charter proposal," spokeswoman Carol Costa said.

City & County of Honolulu

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