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Baltimore City agencies should be audited periodically

Most Baltimoreans would probably be surprised by the political wrangling in the City Council over a charter amendment requiring periodic audits of city agencies ("Bill to put ads on city fire trucks advances," May 31). They would probably be even more surprised by Councilwoman Helen Holton's assertion that some agencies haven't been audited in 40 years.

But there's nothing at all surprising about MayorStephanie Rawlings-Blake's assurances that everything is fine and that no changes to the audit procedure are needed.

The mayor regularly claims there is no fat, fraud or abuse in the city's budgets, which is why she claims tax cuts are impossible and fee increases are necessary. She may be right. But without regular audits we simply cannot know for sure.

Perhaps if the city regularly audited itself, the headlines would be about progress and growth instead of fanciful water bills, imaginary Homestead Tax Credits, misprinted speeding tickets, convention hotel losses, missing minority subcontracting funds, EBDI failures, etc. Maybe we would even know what the Grand Prix really cost the taxpayers of Baltimore.

The Baltimore City Council has a well-deserved reputation for irrelevance. With this effort they have a chance to make a real difference by disrupting the "business as usual" mentality of city government and putting a speed bump in the road to slow Baltimore's downward spiral.

The mayor insists the cost of auditing the government is too high. I believe the cost of not auditing it is equally unacceptable. Residents should encourage the City Council to pass this law and make regular audits of the city government a reality.

Mac Nachlas, Baltimore

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