The county has been without its legislative auditor for two months following Bonnie Nims’ resignation, and the County Council has launched a search for a new one.
Nims, who had been the county auditor since early 2014, resigned Oct. 31, and Audit Analyst Maxinne Pacheco has assumed the duties in the interim. The department conducted 12 performance audits since 2014, in addition to three follow-up audits and numerous financial audit collaborations. Only one performance audit was completed this year.
Among Nims’ notable audits included investigations into county pCard use, county hiring practices, cash-handling at the Mass Transit Agency, water backup plans by the Department of Water Supply and inventory control at the Department of Public Works. The audits resulted in changes to county procedures, and one, the audit on hiring practices, won a national award.
The Council on Dec. 23 agreed to create an ad hoc committee that would meet outside the public arena to review applications for the $126,420 position, conduct interviews and create a short list for the council to vote from in a public meeting.
Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz, who brought the issue of Nims’ resignation up to the council and asked for an ad hoc committee, was named chairwoman of the committee by Council Chairwoman Maile David.
“She brought this forward; she has a very distinct idea of what needs to be done,” David said.
David named North Kona Councilman Holeka Inaba, Hamakua Councilwoman Heather Kimball and Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy to fill out the ad hoc commitee.
County Clerk Jon Henricks agreed to provide the administrative support.
“Our office will administratively assist the ad hoc committee at its discretion to provide the candidate search and whatnot and then turn that over to the committee to do the hard work of creating a short list to the council,” he said.
Henricks said Thursday the office hasn’t identified what the ad should say or where it should be published.
The county charter gives the council sole discretion on choosing an auditor, who serves a six-year term, subject to termination for cause by a two-thirds council majority.
The auditor must “possess adequate professional proficiency for the office demonstrated by relevant certification, such as certification as a certified internal auditor or certified public accountant or an advanced degree in a relevant field, and at least three years of general auditing experience which shall include a minimum of one year’s experience in the field of government auditing,” according to the charter, which adds, “a certified internal auditor or certified public accountant shall be preferred.”