Pamela Palmer: Candidate Profile
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: McHenry Auditor
Family: Two grown children, one grandchild
Occupation: McHenry County Auditor
Education: Bachelor of Science - Business Administration - Columbia College 2004
Civic involvement: I have been involved in Special Olympics, United Way and MDA fundraising over several years. I was a part of the mentoring program for Woodstock District #200 for 3 years. Also I am a member of the Woodstock Professional Business Women - a group which also awards scholarships to women to begin or further their careers in the business or professional fields
Elected offices held: McHenry County Auditor - 2006 - present Coral Township Republican Precinct Committeeman - 2000 - present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
The position of the McHenry County Auditor is important as the financial accounting/reporting and internal auditing duties are the two major functions performed in the office.
In addition, expenditures by County departments receive final approval by the Auditor's Office prior to payment.
The County has received the Government Finance Officer Association's financial reporting awards for both its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and Popular Annual Financial Report.
The Internal Audit Program is based upon a risk assessment performed annually and the Annual Audit Plan is based upon this assessment.
Close to 40,000 invoices are reviewed each year for approval by Accounts Payable and the careful final review by Auditor's Office staff have saved thousands of dollars.
I have held the position since 2006 and believe that I have made many solid contributions to overseeing this important financial and auditing operation and am fully qualified to continue to be the McHenry County Auditor.
Key Issue 2
The Internal Audit Program in the Auditor's Office has made significant improvements in professionalism and program formalization and will continue to grow in the number of audits conducted within departments.
Through recommendations made from internal audits, the County can strengthen internal controls and realize cost savings and efficiencies.
Both my Internal Auditor and I are working on earning our designations as Certified Internal Auditors, which will serve to strengthen the work that is done in the Internal Audit Program.
My background prior to coming to McHenry County has been in the internal audit area, so I am also qualified to monitor and participate in this process.
Key Issue 3
Candidate did not respond.
Given the legal issues surrounding the state's attorney during his current term, does McHenry County need to create a new ethics ordinance? Why or why not?
In 2005, amendments were made to the Ethics Ordinance that was in place at that time.
However, the McHenry County Ethics Commission met several times in 2010 and made major enhancements to the ordinance by adding significant policy and procedures sections.
I reviewed the documents at that time, noting that the changes provided for specific procedures for the filing and processing of complaints.
In my opinion, the ordinance is comprehensive and should serve the County well as long as regular reviews are conducted for any necessary changes and new employee or refresher training is conducted.
My review of minutes from Ethics Commission meetings indicate that training has been requested for employees by the commission members.
How would you go about improving government transparency?
I believe that McHenry County has gone to great lengths to provide for transparency in County information and accessibility.
The County's website is rather extensive and is continually being reviewed to enable citizens to have easy access and in adding further information.
In fact, McHenry County earned a ?Sunny Award? in 2011 from the Sunshine Review, a non-profit organization dedicated to state and local government transparency. This award was given for having a perfect website transparency score of an A+.
The Auditor's Office contributes to this ?Sunny Award? and transparency by posting various financial reports on the Auditor's webpage.
I am currently evaluating placing more information on the Auditor's page which will reflect more operational data and summaries of internal audit work performed.
In addition, I have produced the Popular Annual Financial Report - an easy to read summarized version of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
This report is filled with narratives and graphs and gives citizens a good understanding of the County's financial position.
McHenry County is the only county in Illinois (out of 102) to produce this report.
With the auditor's office being a statutory office with some autonomy from the county board, are you comfortable with the way budgeting is handled? Please explain.
Even though my office is statutorily independent with some of the functions that are performed, I recognize and promote working with the County Board and County Administration on financially-related matters that serve to strengthen and improve the operations of the County.
I believe that the present budget process has worked very well and has enabled the County to be in the strong General Fund reserve position it is in during these troubling economic times.
Elected Officials and Department Heads have worked hard to keep expenses down and to pursue cost savings. However, my opinion is that some good systems may need ?fine tuning? periodically.
The budget process has been one of maintenance (i.e. given the same budgeted amount from the prior fiscal year) which can be adjusted downward for cost savings identified during the prior year. Supplemental budget request funding is granted based upon demonstrated needs, priorities and most importantly, the availability of funds.
At some point (at least for one year), I believe it would be beneficial to ?fine tune? each departmental budget through requiring more detailed budget submissions to justify the amounts submitted and approved by the County Board.
Are there any steps the auditor can take to improve people's comfort level in reporting abuse or misuse of county assets'
I have already taken a step several years ago by establishing a Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline in my office which allows for contact by phone, mail, or email.
This hotline is for the reporting of observed or suspected fraud, waste, abuse or misuse of McHenry County government resources or assets. Callers or reporters can remain anonymous.
I personally field these calls from a special phone within my immediate office.
If the call does not pertain to McHenry County government, I have directed callers to the correct agency.
Having a hotline is a recommended best practice and shows the commitment my office has made for citizens to feel comfortable in reporting observations of usage of taxpayer dollars.
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