Think of the county auditor as an independent control or voice that represents every citizen, ensuring that county funds are properly spent and accounted for.
In most counties, the county auditor – with some help from the county treasurer – functions much the same as a chief financial officer would in the private sector. They oversee all money received and distributed by the county to provide a wide variety of important services to the community.
This involves carefully reviewing and approving all vouchers, requisitions, and purchase orders watching especially for things that are either new or different than normal. If they spot something that is out of the ordinary, the county auditor can pause the process to gather more information before moving ahead.
Another duty is to oversee special funding, called bonds, which are used to pay for big county projects, such as buildings, transportation needs, and other things for the community. Some types of bonds require a vote of the people, but bond financing ensures that the citizens who utilize these new projects pay for them equally over time.
Auditors also play an important role in Utah’s property tax system. They certify the official tax rates and submit them to the State Tax Commission. In July they send valuation notices to property owners giving them a preview of what their property tax bill will be in November. These notices also include information about due dates and appeal options.
Along with that, auditors in most counties act as a clerk for property tax appeals heard by the county Board of Equalization, who makes final rulings. And, the Auditor also handles property tax relief requests (called circuit breakers and abatements) from land owners who qualify, based on disability, income, age, or military service.
The county auditors is responsible for performing internal financial and fraud-related audits. This requires monitoring internal controls that safeguard public money. In these audits, the Auditor acts as the “Citizens’ Watch Dog” to ensure funds are utilized appropriately.
In addition to financial audits, the executive branch may request performance audits be conducted of county departments. Performance audits measure whether or not a department is meeting the goals outlined by the County. In these audits, the executive branch sets the scope and criteria of the audit and the Auditor acts as an independent investigator to see if required goals are being met.
Finally, in most counties the Auditor acts as the Budget officer. They review financial trends, make recommendations for upcoming expenditures, projected revenues, monitor the current year budget, make adjustments throughout the year, and provide public notice of the budget process.
The auditor is just one of many important offices at your county. But without their expertise in managing all of the finances it would be difficult for counties and all the services they provide to run efficiently and accurately for the citizens they serve.