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Auditor Counter-Proposal: Citizens for Sensible Oversight is bringing another performance auditor proposal to the table

A ballot measure aimed at creating an independent city auditor for Eugene now has competition.

A new group announced Jan. 8 that it is petitioning the city to pass a charter amendment to compete with an initiative measure, already on the May ballot, to create a Eugene city auditor completely independent of the City Council.

Citizens for Sensible Oversight will present the new proposal at a Jan. 8 Eugene City Council public forum at Harris Hall. Petitioners intend their measure to compete with City Accountability’s Measure 20-283 for an independent, elected city auditor.

Both groups agree that an auditor is a good idea for Eugene. But concerns over budget, oversight and authority spurred the new proposal. City councilors resisted the initial ballot measure for similar reasons. Two of the members of the new group, Marty Wilde and John Barofsky, were on Mayor Lucy Vinis’ Performance Auditor Study Group appointed to research alternative auditor options. They are also both on the Lane County Performance Audit Committee 

Citizens for Sensible Oversight’s petition has received more than 80 signatures in only a few days. Signers of the petition endorse a letter, attached to the petition, to the mayor and City Council urging them to introduce the competing measure.

“As it stands now, voters have no option other than to vote for a flawed proposal to establish a city auditor,” the letter reads, “or to vote against any auditor at all.”

Chief concerns about the ballot measure mentiond by city councilors and Citizens for Sensible Oversight were the lack of oversight for the auditor, the auditor’s budget and the lack of residency requirements. Citizens for Sensible Oversight say they have attempted to address these issues in their propsed charter amendment.

But City Accountability argues that these issues were misunderstood by the council, and the proposed language is either too vague, in some areas, or overreaching, in others, to be effective.

The Citizens for Sensible Oversight counter proposal would establish an oversight board made up of at least one member that lives in wards 2 or 3; one member from wards 4 or 5; one member from wards 6 or 8; and one member from wards 1 or 7. Elected city officials can be on the board but wouldn’t be able to vote, and one member must have experience as a certified personal accountant, certified internal auditor, certified government auditing professional or equivalent experience. There is no minimum or maximum number of members in the amendment.

Members of the oversight committee would be appointed and directed by the City Council.

While Measure 20-283 stipulates an elected auditor, the counter proposal would allow the City Council to appoint one.

Bonny Bettman McCornack, chief petitioner for City Accountability, wrote in an email to EW that “Their [Citizens for Sensible Oversight’s] structure will just mirror the existing political agendas of council, and therefore be ‘dependent’ not ‘independent.’”

The public forum begins at 7:30 pm Jan, 8,  in Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Avenue.