FRANKFORT — Some lawmakers are getting some heat from constituents about local government operations and what they see as too little oversight by the state.
So lawmakers — as they are wont to do — are demanding answers from someone else, in this case the state Auditor of Public Accounts and the Department of Local Government.
But Auditor Adam Edelen explained to the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government that the lawmakers are looking in the wrong direction. He is required, by law, to audit county governments but not cities — and if they want him to take on that chore, he will need more resources.
“My office does not have the statutory authority to audit cities,” Edelen said. Cities are required to conduct independent audits, and Edelen’s office will sometimes perform special examinations of cities upon receiving complaints or referrals as it currently is doing in Barbourville.
In fact, Edelen said, his office is “deluged with requests about cities,” but his office already performs 600 audits a year with only 109 auditors, some of whom make under $40,000 a year and often move on to better paying positions.
“If we’re going to get into cities, I can’t afford to do it with what I’ve got,” Edelen said.
That prompted lawmakers to complain Edelen was asking for more funding at a time of tight state finances.
“We’ll be happy to add your name to the list of agencies lining up to ask us for more money,” quipped Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, the Majority Floor Leader of the Republican-controlled Senate. Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, scolded Edelen for asking for more money.
“I wasn’t making a request for additional funding,” Edelen said. “I was answering an honest question posed by a member of this body about what it would take to do the job of reviewing cities.”