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Changes to county auditor bill lauded
by TOM BUSSELBERG | Contributing Editor
Feb 21, 2012 | 806 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FARMINGTON — Proposed changes to SB 124 in a legislative committee meeting last week were a good move, County Commissioner John Petroff said. 

He was speaking about Sen. Curt Bramble’s bill that originally would have stripped county auditors of their budget officer role, financial officer role and audit responsibilities as mandated by current law.

During that committee meeting, the Utah County legislator agreed to make changes that would delay its implementation for Davis and other counties, as well as include changes and recommendations from auditors.

“I think everybody is feeling fairly comfortable right now,” Petroff said. “The legislation is still going forward for Salt Lake County.”

That county has voted for a strong mayor/council form of government and is the state’s only first class county.

“The idea is to work on some language that the auditors would be more comfortable with,” Petroff said.

“This (conflicts with the auditor vs. commission) has never been an issue in Davis County,” he said. “(The proposed law) gives (the Commission) the ability to appoint a budget officer rather than the current statute (where he or she is elected). “We’ve been fine with that (current system).

“We’ve worked well with him,” he said of current Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings.

Rawlings was recently named county auditor of the year and elected official of the year by his peers at the Utah Association of Counties. He is the past president of the Utah Association of Counties Clerk/Auditors.

As Petroff noted, in Davis County, a Budget Committee, including a handful of department heads, commissioners and Rawlings, work together to prepare the final budget, providing input.

“Because of that, everybody has equal input. It’s not only about that person’s (department head’s) budget,” he said.

“One of my issues throughout this whole process has been our Clerk/Auditor is elected by the people to fulfill those responsibilities of the budget and accounting, as well as auditing.

“If we have that ability as a commission to go in and change that, in one sense, we’d be changing the vote of the citizens that voted to put him in,” Petroff said.

“As auditors we are all in agreement that proper checks and balances should be present in all counties,” Rawlings said. “This (proposed law SB 124) in its original or amended forms changes checks and balances currently in place. It has been proposed because of strong disagreements in Salt Lake County.

“I believe this bill circumvents the legislation already in place to allow for a change in the form of government through a vote of the people.”

Thanks to some of the changes, however, Davis County will have more time to find a solution they’re comfortable with.

“Sen. Bramble promised us he will make the effective date immediate for counties of the first class only (Salt Lake County) if the bill passes and the effective date for other counties will be Jan. 1, 2015, allowing for time to come up with a workable scenario to resolve any current concerns that legislators and others may have,” Rawlings said.
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