MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

May 10, 2014

Countdown to make a difference

State auditor seeks to accomplish much in his new and final term

WAGONER — State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones said he calculates daily the amount of time he will remain in office. “Because of term limits, I know have a limited time to make a difference,” he said.

Jones was elected to office in 2010 and is running unopposed for his second and last term as auditor and inspector. He was in Wagoner Friday morning, presenting an overview of the duties of his office, plus discussing the goals of the past four years and plans for the next term.

He told the group gathered at the civic center that he recently completed a countdown when he filed for office. During the filing period, he was focused on who might be his opponent in the November election.

No other candidates ran for the office, and Jones joked that he then realized he was the only one who wanted the job.

“I’ve started a new countdown,” he said. “I have four years, eight months and two days to actually make a difference.”

Jones provided details about the goals and duties of his office.

One of Jones’ main goals when he began his term was to be up-to-date on conducting audits, a goal that they are closing to reaching, he said.

The state auditor and inspector’s office is responsible for conducting financial audits of district attorneys, emergency management districts, state agencies and the state. The office also conducts investigative and performance audits.

The office does not conduct audits of cities, schools and trust authorities on a routine basis, but can if it’s requested, he said.

The state auditor’s office also help provide answers regarding concerns about municipal issues without conducting formal audits, he said.

Sometimes residents have concerns about issues.

“Sometimes, there’s not anything criminal. It’s just a matter of miscommunication,” Jones said.

He explained that his office is not trying to turn down requests to conduct audits, but believes his office can help resolve the issue if they can help provide answers.

Recently, his office was informed that citizens of a municipality “were in an uproar” and had a lot of concerns regarding various issues.

The auditor’s office organized a town hall meeting to discuss the issue. All of the concerns and questions residents presented — during the meeting or afterwards — were given to municipal officials for answers. Those answers were presented during another public meeting and residents were satisfied with the results.

“What started out as a mob with pitchforks and torches ended up being a couple of disgruntled people that were upset over something,” he said. “There was no need in the public’s opinion to have an audit.

“It’s all about transparency and accountability,” he said. “My job is not to go out and play ‘gotcha.’ It’s trying to do things necessary to help people stay on the right track. And in the event we need to look at something, we do that as well.”

Reach Anita Reding at (918) 684-2903 or areding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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