SALEM - The Finance Committee of City Council approved submitting an application for funding for a state performance audit to study the city's financial efficiency.
The committee had already voted in favor of applying for the loan program previously, but wanted some questions answered before filing the paperwork which is due May 31. City Auditor Betty Brothers will file the application with the state auditor's office.
"There's no guarantee the city will get this," Committee Chair Councilman K. Bret Apple said, noting if the city does get the money, the committee and council will have to take action to accept it.
Councilman David Nestic, who also serves on the committee, said municipalities had to pay up front previously to have a performance audit done by the state. The passage of Senate Bill 4 earlier this year allows the state auditor's office to come in and do a performance audit without any money paid in advance.
Apple said if the state finds ways the city can save money, then the city pays the state from the money saved. If no savings are found, the city isn't obligated to pay for the audit.
The audit could cost upwards of $30,000.
Councilman Brian Whitehill, also on the committee, said the audit is designed to provide an impartial opinion on how the city is spending its money and whether it's spending it efficiently. He said the public has indicated it wants the city to see if money can be saved.
Apple said if the savings are subsequent to collective bargaining obligations, the city may still have to pay, if the suggestions are related to something the city can't change due to contractual obligations.
Whitehill had contacted the law director and said the city is under no obligation to go through with the performance audit if the state approves the application, which was one of the questions they had.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org