To the Editor:
The lagging economy has forced business owners to examine every aspect of their enterprises to achieve efficiency. County government, funded by business and individual taxpayers, has an obligation to do the same.
In the name of efficiency and accountability, some counties in Oho are considering changes in their government structure. Under these protocols, voters would elect a county executive responsible for government operations and economic development and elect a county council to set policy.
This fall, voters in Cuyahoga County will choose their first county executives from a pool of eight candidates and seat a total of 11 council members out of 86 in the running. As business people, you may question how moving from three county commissioners to 12 public officials at an annual payroll of $670,000 (not including additional staff and benefits such as health insurance) achieves efficiency. Furthermore, the county’s chief fiscal officer (CFO) akin to the county auditor, will no longer be elected. Instead, the county executive will hire a CFO, keeper of the county books. How does this improve accountability? I say it does not.
My interest is not to tell voters in other counties what is best for them, but for voters in our county to understand the value of an elected fiscal officer who answers to the people. It is tempting to think the county government structure under which Carroll County and 86 other counties have operated for more than 150 years must be antiquated. Yet, upon examination, our system of government responds well because its top officials are voted in (or out) directly by a vote of the people.
As Carroll County Auditor, I am accountable to the voters for the county’s fiscal management. Now imagine county auditors who want to please the executives who gave them their jobs. It is highly possible the appointed CFO would be pressured to sign a risky loan or alter property appraisals to generate more money or even “borrow” from another county fund improperly.
Your county auditor, the holder of the county’s checkbook, must remain independently elected and answerable to the voters.
E. Leroy VanHorne
Carroll County Auditor