Hills BOCC weighs new auditor policy

10/06/10 Kate Bradshaw
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In the last year, the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has seen more than its fair share of drama. There was the Kevin White scandal, the Pat Bean debacle, and the firing of internal auditor Jim Barnes. The latest is a lawsuit against Commissioner Jim Norman over his ballot eligibility for state Senate. Kevin Ambler, Norman’s GOP primary opponent, filed it after the revelation that he may have failed to disclose a hefty loan from a developer. Norman was glaringly absent today when the board discussed its internal audit policy.

The board was discussing new policies for the department that conducts internal audits for county employees. The policy in question deals with the time a commissioner has for private special audits before information regarding allegations are released. Commissioner Rose Ferlita says allegations of wrongdoing, even when proven false, can be damaging.

Right now, there is no internal performance auditor, or IPA. Until last May, Jim Barnes held that position, but was fired amid damning criticism of his performance. A referendum on November’s ballot would create more stringent qualifications for the position and bar the IPA from participating in political activities, among other things. Currently, internal auditing consultant Richard Tarr is filling in, though he’s not a county employee. The board wants to hash out how to get the seat permanently filled.

Commissioner Kevin Beckner suggests bringing on an interim auditor rather than using a consultant while they look for a permanent replacement for Barnes, but Commissioner Kevin White is among those who don’t like the idea.

White is one of several outgoing county commissioners. Others are Jim Norman, mayoral hopeful Rose Ferlita, and possibly Ken Hagan, who is running against Linda Saul-Sena for Norman’s countywide seat. After a weeks-long national search, the new board of county commissioners will choose the next internal performance auditor.

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