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The Right Note: Time to Pick Up the Pace

by Mark Kelly February 8, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Arlington’s independent auditor, Chris Horton, is soliciting suggestions from the public on what to audit. Encouraging ongoing participation from all Arlingtonians is a good thing.

The current work plan for the auditor includes fleet management, public safety overtime, Business Improvement Districts and the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Commission. It is a good start, but only two of these audits are definitely slated to be completed this fiscal year.

If you look at the what the auditor has identified as the “Audit Horizon,” it is clear that the office should step up the pace. The Audit Horizon includes affordable housing, capital improvement planning, economic development incentive funding, facilities management, the handling of personally identifiable information, procurement and analysis of the county’s financial condition. And that is just a partial list of important items.

The total budget for the auditor in FY 2018 is about $210,000. The County Board should consider a dramatic increase in the budget and staff allocation for the auditor during the current budget cycle discussions to at least $500,000.

There is too much important work to do to spread the audits out over the next decade, or even longer. If the Board is committed to paying more than lip service to this new level of accountability, then it is time to give the office the resources it needs.

The Electoral Board this week announced a competition to design a new “I Voted” sticker. A goal of the project is to help boost turnout in the 2019 election cycle, the historically lowest turnout year in each four-year cycle.

The idea that more voters should take advantage of their constitutional right whenever it is available to them is certainly a noble goal. As we saw this past November, turnout can be dramatically increased over prior years, but it is primarily driven by the circumstances surrounding a given election cycle.

While the holding the competition will draw some additional attention, it is hard to imagine that the stickers would do much. In New York, a city of 8.5 million people, 700 designs were submitted, but only 10,000 people voted on which design they liked best according to the Sun Gazette article. That’s just a little over 1/10th of one percent of the population.

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