Harford government's auditor urges vote for charter amendment expanding her powers

The Harford County government's auditor says she supports a charter amendment on the November general election ballot that would expand her office's powers and she is asking the public to vote for it.

If approved, the amendment would allow the auditor's office to perform operational and performance audits, in addition to financial reviews.

Chrystal Brooks, the county auditor, explained the amendment during Monday night's monthly meeting of the Abingdon Community Council meeting, where she said performance audits mean analyzing whether programs or events meet their objectives. She said most other jurisdictions conduct such audits.

Brooks also said she is excited about the addition of a third auditor position to her office. The Harford County Council, for whom Brooks works, agreed this spring to fund the third position for at least half of fiscal year 2015.

Councilman Dion Guthrie, who also attended the Abingdon meeting, said the auditor's office "has been a tremendous asset" for the council.

Before the county council had auditors on its staff, he said, the county administration "would go hog wild" but now knows it can be audited at any time.

Brooks said Tuesday she had been considering doing outreach to educate people about her office and took up a suggestion of going to the community councils for that purpose.

She explained many people call her office inquiring about taxes or other concerns totally unrelated to her position.

Brooks also said it makes sense for her to endorse the charter amendment, as she was involved in writing it.

"I think it's important that people know what the charter amendment is and what it does because [otherwise] they are just voting blindly, if you were," she said.

County Council President Billy Boniface said he encouraged Brooks to go to the community councils to talk about her office and sees no reason why she shouldn't talk about her support for the charter change, which he and the rest of the council approved for the ballot earlier this year.

"I think it's a great idea," he said of the amendment. "I think this is going to give her office the ability to do a much better job of providing more information to the council and future county executives."

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