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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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Local

City of San Diego
Measure D Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

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CHARTER AMENDMENTS REGARDING AUDIT COMMITTEE AND SELECTION AND TERM OF CITY AUDITOR. Shall Charter sections 39.1 and 39.2 be amended to provide that the City Council appoints the City Auditor from at least three candidates recommended by the Audit Committee; the Auditor is limited to two five-year terms; the Council may appoint an interim Auditor; and public members of the screening committee for the Audit Committee serve until replaced; and make clarifying amendments?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by The League of Women Voters of San Diego (LWVSD)

The Question

Shall the City Charter be amended to provide that

  • the City Council shall appoint the City Auditor from at least three candidates recommended by the Audit Committee;
  • the City Auditor is limited to two five year terms;
  • the Council may appoint an interim auditor; and
  • public members of the screening committee for the Audit Committee serve until replaced;

and make clarifying amendments?

The Situation

Currently, the Mayor does a search for a City Auditor and, in consultation with the Audit Committee, appoints one of three recommendations for a term of ten years.  

The City of San Diego's Charter says,

"The City Auditor shall be appointed by the City Manager, in consultation with the Audit Committee, and confirmed by the Council.  The City Auditor shall be a certified public accountant or certified internal auditor.  The City Auditor shall serve for a term of ten years.  The City Auditor shall report to and be accountable to the Audit Committee." 

(Note that the City Manager concept has not been changed yet in the Charter to the Mayor, as defined by the Strong Mayor form of government adopted several years ago.)  

The Proposal

The Audit Committee would do the search and select at least three qualified candidates.  The Audit Committee would then select one to serve a five-year term with the option to renew for a second five-year term. 

The proposal also includes eliminating an ex-officio representative from the Mayor's office from the Audit Committee.

Fiscal effect

none

Supporters say

  • Currently, the Mayor nominees 3 people who investigates claims of waste, fraud and abuse in City Hall; the fox is watching the hen house. According to Councilman Scott Sherman, the "administration shouldn't be in charge of choosing who is overseeing the administration."

The City Council approved this ballot measure unanimously.  There is no known financial backing for it.

Opponents say

  • Limiting the 10 year term to 5 years, with a potential for a 5 year-extension, may limit the independence of the auditor.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Summary

San Diego City Attorney's Office

OFFICIAL TITLE AND SUMMARY

BALLOT TITLE

Charter Amendments Regarding Audit Committee and Selection and Term of City Auditor 

BALLOT SUMMARY

This measure would amend the San Diego City Charter (Charter) by amending Article V, sections _39.l and 39.2, relating to the City of San Diego's (City) Audit Committee and the selection and term of office of the City Auditor (Auditor). The measure requires a majority vote for approval. 

The Charter presently provides that the Auditor is appointed by the City Manager (the Mayor under the Strong Mayor fonn of govennnent), in consultation with the Audit Committee, and confirmed by the City Council (Council). The Auditor must be a certified public accountant or certified internal auditor, and presently serves a ten-year term.

If approved, amendments provide that the Council will appoint the Auditor from at least three candidates evaluated and recommended by the Audit Committee, based on the minimum qualifications set forth in the Charter and other criteria determined by the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee may use staff from the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst and employ expert consultants, in accordance with City contracting rules, to assist in the process of evaluating Auditor applicants.

The amendments also provide that the Auditor will be limited to serving two five-year terms. If the Auditor vacates the office for any reason before the end of a term, then the principal assistant to the Auditor will serve as interim Auditor, if the principal assistant is eligible to serve and is confirmed by the Council. If the principal assistant is not eligible to serve or is not confirmed by the Council, then the Council may adopt procedures to fill the vacancy. An interim Auditor may be appointed to serve as the Auditor.

The Charter presently provides that the three public members of the Audit Committee are appointed by the Council from a pool of at least two candidates for each vacant position, and the candidates are recommended by a screening committee. The screening committee presently includes two outside financial experts appointed by the other members of the screening committee and confirmed by the Council. The amendments provide that the outside financial experts may serve on the screening committee until replaced by the Council. The amendments also provide that the screening committee will include the Councilmember serving as the Chair of the Audit Committee. The Independent Budget Analyst also serves on the committee. The Chief Financial Officer will be removed from the screening committee.

The measure also includes amendments that clarify language for legal purposes.

The Council proposed the measure and placed the measure on the ballot, following public hearings of the Council's Rules Committee, the Audit Committee, and the Council. If approved, the Charter amendments will take effect after they are chaptered by the California Secretary of State.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

San Diego City Attorney's Office

CITY ATTORNEY’S IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS

This measure seeks to change the way that the City Auditor (Auditor) is appointed, removing the Mayor from the appointment process, and to reduce the Auditor's term of office from ten years to five years, with the possibility of one reappointment to an additional term.

The Charter presently provides that the Auditor is appointed by the City Manager (the Mayor under the Strong Mayor form of government), in consultation with the Audit Committee, and confirmed by the City Council (Council). The Auditor presently serves a ten-year term. The Charter does not address whether the Auditor may be reappointed.

Under the proposed Charter amendments, the Council must appoint the Auditor, from no fewer than three qualified candidates recommended by the Audit Committee. The Mayor will no longer be involved in the appointment process. The Audit Committee will review applicant qualifications, and may use staff from the Independent Budget Analyst's office and employ expert consultants, complying with City contracting rules, to assist. 

The measure also reduces the Auditor's term of office from ten years to five years. The Council may reappoint the Auditor to a second five-year term without considering other candidates, upon the Auditor's application and a favorable recommendation from the Audit Committee. The Auditor will be limited to serving a maximum of two five-year terms, or ten years in total.

The amendments also add provisions for an interim Auditor, which did not previously exist. If the Auditor vacates the office before the end of a term, the principal assistant to the Auditor will serve as interim Auditor, if eligible to serve and confirmed by the Council. If the principal assistant is not eligible to serve or not confirmed by the Council, then the Council may adopt procedures to fill the vacancy on an interim basis. An interim Auditor may serve as long as necessary to complete a formal recruitment and appoint a successor Auditor. The interim Auditor may apply to serve as the successor Auditor and, if appointed, may serve a full five-year term, with the opportt.mity to serve a second full five-year term.

The Charter presently provides that the Council appoints the three public members of the Audit Committee from a pool of at least two candidates for each vacant position, to be recommended by a screening committee. This committee includes two outside financial experts. The Charter does not specify how long these financial experts may serve on the screening committee. Amendments clarify that the financial experts may serve until replaced by the Council. Amendments remove the City's Chief Financial Officer from the screening committee, and provide that the Councilmember serving as Chair of the Audit Committee will serve on the screening committee.

The measure also includes clarifying language for legal purposes.

The amendments were considered by the Council's Rules Committee, the Audit Committee, and the Council, which placed the measure on the ballot. If approved, the Charter amendments will take effect after they are chaptered by the California Secretary of State. 

Financial effect

Offices of the Mayor / Independent Budget Analyst / City Auditor

FISCAL IMPACT ANALYSIS

MEASURE D: CHARTER AMENDMENTS REGARDING AUDIT COMMITTEE AND SELECTION AND TERM OF CITY AUDITOR

This measure includes San Diego City Charter amendments which, among other Charter modifications, removes the Mayor as part of the City Auditor appointment process, and requires the Audit Committee to recommend to the City Council candidates for consideration for City Auditor appointment. It also reduces the term of City Auditor appointment from 10 years to five years, with the possibility for reappointment to a second five-year term. Because the total potential appointment period is still 10 years, it cannot be assumed with any confidence that the frequency of recruitments will increase. Thus, there is no fiscal impact projected for these Charter amendments. 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE D

TAKES THE FOX OUT OF THE HENHOUSE
Currently, the Mayor selects the person who audits the Mayor's departments. That is like having the fox guard the henhouse. Prop D removes the fox and replaces it with a guard dog.

PROP D FIXES THE CURRENT FLAW IN THE CITY AUDITOR SELECTION PROCESS
Professional auditing standards require auditors to be independent from the entity they audit. The current broken selection process conflicts with these standards. Our City Auditor is chosen by the entity they examine - the Mayor. Prop D fixes this flawed process.

OFFERS COMPLETE INDEPENDENCE FROM THE MAYOR'S OFFICE
Currently, a mayoral staff member sits on the screening committee for the Audit Committee's non-elected public members. Prop D removes this mayoral staff member, making the Audit Committee completely independent from the Mayor.

GOOD GOVERNMENT REFORM
Prop D remains consistent with 2008's voter-approved Prop C, which established the current Audit Committee and the Office of the City Auditor. The reforms in Prop D offer complete independence from the Mayor and mayoral staff.

PROP X [sic] PROTECTS THE TAXPAYERS
The City Auditor will not be a rubber stamp for the Mayor. The City Auditor will be able to be completely objective and independent from the Mayor and the Mayor's departments while conducting the city's audits.

THE ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUDITORS (ALGA) SUPPORT THE MEASURE
In a letter sent to the City of San Diego by ALGA, "...ALGA applauds your move to enhance the independence of the audit function by changing the reporting relationship with the City Auditor."

"The administration shouldn't be in charge of choosing who is overseeing the administration. This ballot measure will help ensure this important position is truly independent."

Scott Sherman, San Diego City Councilmember and Chair of the Audit Committee

VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION D 

 

SCOTT SHERMAN
Chair Audit Committee

APRIL BOLING
Certified Public Accountant/
Taxpayer Watchdog

JEN CAMPBELL
Vice Chair Audit Committee

ALAN SPENCER
Audit Committee Public Member

— San Diego City Clerk

Arguments AGAINST

ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE D

No argument against the measure was filed in the office of the City Clerk

— San Diego City Clerk

Read the proposed legislation

Who supports or opposes this measure?

No on Measure D
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

More information

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