Columbia residents call for citywide audit

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COLUMBIA - A request for a citywide performance audit of Columbia has reached the state auditor, and Columbia residents are now working to get 5,000 signatures for the audit to begin.

Maria Oropallo, the chair of the Finance and Audit Advisory Committee, asked the City of Columbia to conduct a citywide audit at Monday's city council meeting. 

Oropallo told council members she submitted a request for a performance audit from Nicole Galloway.

Many Columbia residents have called for the audit because they are concerned about transparency from the City of Columbia, but there also is a concern about the experience and knowledge of staff.

“I remain concerned about the lack of professional and certified staff on the finance department,” said Oropallo.

Mayor Brian Treece asked the council to consider pursing the performance audit again.

I would much rather have that input on the front end and try to get some useful data and some additional information out of that as we begin to chart a roadmap for the next city manager over the next two or three years," said Treece.

The mayor is confident the group will get the amount of signatures needed to proceed with the audit and has concerns about not being able to control the scope.

Ward Two council member Mike Trapp said he can see the appeal of requesting the audit so there is more control, but he has doubts about the group getting enough signatures.

"I'm not convinced it's going to happen anyway," and "I think if there is 5,000 individuals in the city that have those concerns that it might be worth answering those concerns through an audit," said Trapp.

Ward Five council member Matt Pitzer said he believes now that Interim City Manager John Glascock has filled the city auditor position, the audit can be done internally rather than potentially costing the city $500,000 to $750,000. Carey Bryce will start as auditor on Feb. 4.

Pitzer said one of the reasons Bryce was hired was because of her experience with performance audits.

"I support allowing the internal auditor to work because it is an already budgeted position and will not incur any additional cost to the city," said Pitzer.

More information about the petition can be found on the group's Facebook page.

Oropallo has until November 26 to get 5,000 signatures.

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