First a warning because this newsletter starts with discussion of gun violence.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This newsletter comes out after mass shootings this month in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and in other locations around our nation. There are so many people out there far more eloquent than I am who have written about the heartache, frustration, and despair they feel at this time as we mourn for the adults and children who have been killed, hope for those injured to heal, and have sympathy for the loved ones who must somehow endure incomprehensible loss.
I imagine that everyone reading this already knows that nations with stricter gun laws have fewer gun-related accidents and fewer gun homicides than here in the U.S. And this shared knowledge is one reason that the lack of action at the federal level is unconscionable.
As an auditor, I spend a lot of time looking at existing conditions and recommending changes for improvement that are based in fact. It is deeply frustrating when solutions are well known but are not acted on.
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to reduce gun violence in our state through fact-based solutions in Initiative Petition 17. Lift Every Voice Oregon, which is a coalition of faith groups, youth, gun owners, non-gun owners, and other concerned individuals, is collecting signatures to put IP 17 on the November ballot. IP 17 would lead to the following at the state level:
Require a person who wants to acquire a firearm to obtain a permit that shows the person has had firearm training and has passed a background check.
Prevent people from buying ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds (each round contains a cartridge case, primer, powder and one bullet).
Lift Every Voice Oregon needs to secure 140,000 signatures by July 8 to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. I encourage you to learn about this effort and get involved. You can volunteer, sign a signature sheet when you are out and about, or even print a signature sheet at home and send it in to the campaign. Find out more at lifteveryvoiceoregon.com.
Thank you for your consideration,
Multnomah County Auditor
Update on proposed County Charter amendments
On May 26, the Government Accountability Subcommittee voted to bring three of my office’s proposed amendments to the full Charter Review Committee in June. If the full committee supports the amendments, Multnomah County voters will get to vote on them in November. These amendments will put the fraud, waste, and abuse hotline into Charter, create an ombudsman for the county, and ensure my office’s access to information. These are important amendments that will support government accountability.
While I celebrate that these proposals are moving forward, I am disappointed that county voters will not get the opportunity to vote on the most critical amendment my office proposed: giving the County Auditor budgetary independence from county management by providing a budget floor.
If you would like to share your support for any or all of the amendments my office has proposed, I ask you to submit a public comment to the Charter Review Committee by noon on June 10. Fill out this form to submit your comments, or you can send an email to Kali.Odell@multco.us with the subject line "Public Comment."
Update on the Auditor’s budget for fiscal year 2023, starting July 1
As I advocated for amendments to the Charter, I have been seeking additional resources for my office as part of the annual budget process. Chair Kafoury has included all of my budget proposals in her proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. This is a very positive outcome. The proposals, which will likely be included in the adopted budget, will mean the following for your County Auditor’s Office in the upcoming fiscal year:
Program #10005A - Auditor's Office - This maintains the office's current service level.
Program #10005B - Auditor Software - This will enable my office to purchase an audit management system that will help ensure compliance with generally accepted government auditing standards, support efficient and transparent processes, and automate workflows.
Program #10005C - Audit Capacity Expansion - This will add four staff auditors to the office and enable the creation of audit teams for public safety and human services, including homeless services.
This good news does not change the fact that the budget process itself is flawed because the person at the top of the organization my office audits is the person who proposes my office’s budget. Model legislation for local government auditors and auditing standards are clear that funding decisions for auditors should not be controlled by managers or officials subject to audit. I will continue to advocate for a budget process that supports the County Auditor’s independence.
You can watch my budget presentation to the Board of County Commissioners here. The presentation discusses the work my office has done on your behalf so far this fiscal year and talks about the importance of my office’s budget requests.