HARRISBURG — During a Friday meeting, the Saline County Board Audit Committee completed the request for bids for its forensic audit of the county clerk’s office.
Joe Jackson, chairman of both the county’s finance committee and the audit committee, said calls will be placed to local auditing firms informing them of the open window for bids. He said the last day to submit bids is Sept. 27 — the bids will be reviewed the following day during the county’s regularly scheduled board meeting. It is then, Jackson said, that the board will decide on a budget for the audit.
The board voted Sept. 8 during a special meeting to audit the clerk’s office after months of alleged failed cooperation between the clerk’s office and the board, as well as the public.
Jackson said they are specific about what is to be looked into in the request for bids.
“We are going to make sure they know we are not just looking at dollars, we are (also) looking at the the cooperation of Ms. Buchanan and her office with other offices, the public and the county board,” Jackson said.
When asked for her response to last week’s vote to audit her office as well as to allegations of obstructionist behavior, Saline County Clerk Kim Buchanan said there has been no wrongdoing in her office.
“I am doing my job within the law,” she said. “I welcome an audit. It’s public record. They can come in anytime and look at the records.”
Buchanan, a Republican, said the audit, to her, was just a political witch hunt.
Jackson, a Republican, disagreed. He said of the 11 members who attended the special meeting, seven were Republicans and four were Democrats. The vote to call for the audit was unanimous.
“It’s not a political witch hunt. A political witch hunt would normally be, to me, that the opposite party was after me,” Jackson said.
Jackson said there is language in the request for bids that includes a conflict of interest clause — the board is asking that no one with connections to the county apply. Kerber, Eck & Braeckel normally handles their general audits but Jackson said even they will not allowed to apply.
“We aren’t going to allow them to do this forensic audit strictly because they know everybody. We want somebody to come in here who doesn’t know anybody,” he said.
Jackson said they put a term of 120 days in the request for bids. He said the audit committee — which includes Jackson as well as commissioners Stephen Karns, Danny Gibbs, David Phelps, Rick Lane — plans to have a firm under contract by Oct. 1. This would put the end of the audit, at the latest, Jan. 31, 2018. Jackson said this is the maximum window of time — they would like it to be done even sooner if it is possible.