King County Council unanimously approves Dembowski’s legislation creating an independent, full-time and ongoing auditor of Metro Transit

Monday, November 10, 2014

New position would act as a watchdog over the agency’s near billion dollar annual budget

The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously approved an ordinance, authored and proposed by Councilmember Rod Dembowski, which creates a full-time, ongoing and independent auditor of Metro Transit. 

“Government must be accountable, efficient, and transparent,” said Dembowski. “I authored this legislation because county residents were loud and clear in their message that ongoing, comprehensive, performance and financial auditing of Metro Transit is necessary.” 

Previous audits of Metro Transit have consistently found savings and areas for improvement. An audit completed in 2009 resulted in approximately $800 million in net positive impact for the agency.  
“We have repeatedly demonstrated that audits save money and improve accountability,” said Dembowski. “Audits also increase transparency that fosters much- needed trust with the public. The public needs to know that their tax dollars and fares are being spent wisely, and I believe this legislation will increase public confidence in Metro.” 

In reviewing Metro’s budget, which approaches $1 billion annually, the new independent auditor will make recommendations for continued improvement and identification of potential savings and efficiencies. The auditor will present his or her recommendations for improved operations to Metro Transit staff and policy-makers, and the public. 

The full-time Metro Auditor will function within the independent King County Auditor’s office having all of the King County Charter powers vested in the auditor for financial and performance audits. The auditor will be required to file a report to the Council and the public by July 1 of every even-numbered year. The content of the report will summarize the results of his or her work in the previous twenty-four months, and detail what actions the county took in response to any findings in transit audits and assessments completed in the previous three years.


Anonymous,  November 13, 2014 at 9:22 PM  

Councilmember Dembowski has done an outstanding job of trying to uncover every rock for savings before cutting what - for many - is vital transit service. Fortunately, four of his county councilmembers joined him in swimming against the "punish the voters for collectively declined King County Proposition 1 last April and hack the service as if in retribution" approach that four other county councilmembers and the county executive subscribed to. One opposing councilmember even called this endeavor "a turd" in a public meeting! That same councilmember jumped on board with the optimistic news uncovered by an outside audit over the summer. However, if he and the rest of the short-sighted opponents had had their way, we may have had a different and unpleasant story now.

Hopefully, Mr. Dembowski will press on. This is a good, courageous start. An excellent follow-up would be to clean up Metro's fare policies to align with those of the other transit agencies in the region while exerting its leadership as the behemoth of the bunch. Finally, improving the agency's transparency about its organizational structure and its major revenue and expense items in a way the general public, their shareholder, can understand would be welcomed.

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