PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA

Opinion

Retain Joe Harn as auditor

By From page A4 | April 21, 2014

Whether it’s $150 haircuts for welfare recipients or secret pay raises for some favored appointed department head, we have always counted on El Dorado County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn to bring these government misdeeds to light.

When Supervisor Charlie Paine disappeared from office, moving to Costa Rica with his girlfriend, Harn stopped his automatic check deposit and informed him he could pick up a paper check in person at the Auditor’s Office. That ended Charlie’s freeloading days.

These admittedly are small savings, but it is Harn’s role as financial watchdog that has saved the county millions overall. Harn is a Certified Public Accountant, which is another word for frugal and financially conservative. His title, though, is Auditor-Controller. An auditor, the dictionary tells us, is a person “authorized to examine and verify accounts.” A more precise definition comes from the glossary of Fundamental Accounting Principles: An audit is an “analysis and report of an organization’s accounting system, its records and its reports using various tests.”

Sounds simple enough. In reality there is a long list of guidelines and manuals produced by the state Controller’s Office and updates resulting from legislation that affect every aspect of a county budget and how many designated funds big and small the auditor must keep track of, all in accordance with the latest pronouncements from the Government Accounting Standards Board.

As controller Harn is really the chief financial officer for the county. As an elected auditor-controller he is the people’s representative in county government, empowered to be an independent voice versus appointed officials who don’t have the voters uppermost in everything they do.

And this is why we endorse Joe Harn for reelection as Auditor-Controller. He has fought for the taxpayers. He has taken whatever slings and arrows have been hurled at him and still stands up against fiscal  foolishness.

We give him a large measure of credit for continually urging the county to make cuts when the great recession hit in 2008. By 2009, at Harn’s urging, the county eliminated the entire General Services Department and eliminated 100 positions, including idle building inspectors as construction ground to a halt.

The result is this is one of the few counties to come through the recession in sound financial shape. This past budget year the county had a cash carryover balance of $54 million. We credit Joe Harn with having a major role in this. For the next four years he plans to help upgrade the property tax system that serves his office as well as the Assessor’s Office and the Treasurer-Tax Collectors Office.

“I do think I’ve changed the culture and chemistry of the county,” Harn told us. “I want the county to be run in a fiscally sound manner.”

Joe Harn has more than earned another term as Auditor-Controller. The Mountain Democrat endorses his reelection.

Mountain Democrat

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