Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Government performance auditors provide some of the most reliable and useful information for the effective functioning of state and local governments. Unfortunately, an increasing number of audit shops have had to fight to retain their budgets and independence. Some local governments, such as the City of Glendale, Arizona, have even terminated the position of City Auditor. Other jurisdictions have opted to take away the independence of the audit function by moving it under other departments. Changes like these are always concerning -- but especially now, as we witness corruption and a lack of care for the democratic process on a federal level. Auditors are the watchdogs of government. When our independence is threatened, there is the risk that our offices will exist in name only. But here at the county, we are in Charter and can’t be dissolved. Which is a good thing.
At the same time, we don’t have what I think of as the gold standard for independence that we see in the City of Portland’s Charter for its Auditor’s Office. I’m never reminded of that more than when it is time to propose our office’s budget for the next year. We’re heading into budget season, which can be a tough time because our budget is approved by the Board of County Commissioners, after the County Chair, who oversees most of the offices we audit, releases her proposed budget for my office.
There is another group of people who are integral to the effective functioning of government: community! Boards and commissions are a vital but often overlooked part of our local government. They are a way for county residents to inform and affect outcomes in government. My office staff’s the county Audit Committee, which currently has an open spot! Read on to learn about the county’s recently released Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, how it connects to the Audit Committee, and how you can apply to serve on the Audit Committee.
And finally, check out how you can make sure you get counted in the 2020 Census!
2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
The 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report has been released. The CAFR is published annually to provide Multnomah County residents, the Board of County Commissioners, and county staff with detailed financial information of the County. You can find CAFRS from fiscal year 2001 to the present on the Department of County Management's website.
Apply to Serve on the Audit Committee
There's still time to apply for the Audit Committee! The application deadline has been extended to March 13th.
The Audit Committee serves as a liaison between the Board, the independent external auditor and management, as their duties relate to financial accounting, reporting and internal controls and compliance. The Committee assists the Board by reviewing county accounting policies and reporting practices as they relate to the county's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The county utilizes the expertise of Audit Committee members to review the CAFR and report back to the Board of County Commissioners. My office serves as staff to the Audit Committee.
Applications will be accepted until 11:59 pm on Friday, March 13, 2020. If you need translation or an accommodation, or to request a paper application, please contact the Auditor's Office at (503) 988-3320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting Ready for the Census
Census Day is April 1. By this date, you should have received an invitation to respond by mail, phone or online. Why is the census important? Each person identified in the census yields approximately $3,200 per person in federal funding each year. Accurate census data ensures residents of Multnomah County get a fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal programs. Oregon’s population projections suggest that the 2020 Census will identify 450,000 more people living here, which would make Oregon eligible for an additional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The census also impacts county voting districts. As your Auditor, it's my responsibility to reapportion Multnomah County districts after the census. An accurate census count helps ensure that each Commission district is equally sized, supporting each person’s ability to receive equal representation.
I hope that you will not only participate in the census, but also talk to your friends, family and communities about the importance of completing the census questionnaire - which takes about ten minutes to complete. Those ten minutes will go a long way to ensuring that Oregonians a fair share of funding and representation.
Many communities have historically been overlooked in the census. These communities include non-English speakers, immigrants, members of the LGBTQUIA 2Spirit community, rural ranchers and farmers, people of color, and children under 5. It’s important that these communities are counted to ensure they have access to important services like culturally relevant health services, multilingual educational materials, translation services and more.
The We Count Oregon campaign is a specific outreach campaign led by Dancing Hearts Consulting and 11 POC-led organizations to engage with hard-to-count communities and get them to be counted. The We Count Oregon website has a great tool kit to help educate you about the census and share that information with others. Check out this video to learn more about what it’s so important all Oregonians are counted!