In the wake of cities declaring bankruptcy, Baltimore’s “audit bill” seems like a no-brainer.
A watered-down version of the bill would require 14 city agencies to be audited at least once every four years. According to the Baltimore Sun, the original bill called for audits of all 55 city agencies every two years. If all goes well, the council will approve putting the proposal on the November ballot.
Councilman Brandon Scott, who is just 28 years old, noted that some agencies have not been audited in his lifetime. “We are a budget built on sand,” according to fellow councilmember Mary Pat Clarke.
The move toward more accountability came from a series of bills introduced by Councilman Bill Henry, who is seeking to streamline the council, reduce the power of the mayor, and impose term limits. While laudable, those reforms do not make the top of the list, nor should they become a roadblock for better fiscal oversight.
Financial audits cannot not be an option for any organization, let alone those who rely on tax dollars. Transparency in government must extend past open meetings, conflict-of-interest disclosures, and access to public records. Best practices dictate complete and regular audits of cities and their internal agencies.