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.
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: McHenry Auditor
Family: Two grown children, one grandchild
Occupation: Current McHenry County Auditor
Education: Bachelor of Science - Business Administration - Columbia College 2004
Civic involvement: I recently joined the Lion's Club in Sun City, Huntley and have been a member of the Woodstock Professional Business Women as well as the McHenry County Historical Society. I have been involved in Special Olympics, United Way and MDA fundraising. Also, I participated in the mentoring program for Woodstock District #200 for 3 years.
Elected offices held: McHenry County Auditor since 2006. Present Coral Township Republican Precinct Committeeman since 2000.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Accountability is an important issue, not only for the Auditor?s Office, but for the entire McHenry County government. The duties of the County Auditor include the functions of financial accounting/reporting and a continuous internal audit program. I have held the County Auditor position since 2006, serving as the Chief Deputy Auditor since 1998, and believe that I have made valuable improvements to the oversight as well as working within these two functions. Both of these functions contribute towards accountability through the following: Reviews and approval of vendor invoices, general accounting duties, the performance of internal audits, quarterly and annual financial reporting, reviews and documentation of internal controls, reviews of adherence to County ordinances, policies and procedures, etc. My position provides an avenue in county government for the voters and residents to have a set of eyes watching over operations for accountability.
Key Issue 2
Having a formal internal audit function in McHenry County government is very beneficial and its continuance is another key issue. I started a formal internal audit program in the early 2000?s and we have made significant improvements in the professionalism and program formalization ever since. Through recommendations made from internal audits, the County can strengthen internal controls and realize cost savings and efficiencies. In addition, the full-time Internal Auditor and I have concentrated on documented reviews of internal controls within departments. This not only assists with making recommendations to strengthen procedures, work flows, and compliance, but also provides documentation for the County?s external audit firm to review annually. Good internal controls not only help to reduce risks, such as fraud, but also help to ensure complete and accurate financial statements as well as compliance with policies, procedures, statutes, and regulations.
Key Issue 3
The review of policies for updates or even the creation of new policies and procedures is another key issue that I have been working on. In order for the County to properly function effectively and in regulatory compliance, it is necessary to have policies in place for guidance to departments and employees, as well as having a resource for the Internal Audit Program in conducting internal audits and making recommendations. I have been proactive in this area and continue to play a part in updates or pointing out the need for new policies to assist in guidance.
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. 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 for any necessary changes are performed. Training was requested for employees by the Ethics Commission members and an on-line in-house program was developed for all employees of the County. County Administration is monitoring compliance with the completion of the training.
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. The Auditor?s Office contributes to this by posting various financial reports on the Auditor?s webpage. A new website look for the County is being worked on and I will be placing more information on the Auditor?s page which will reflect more operational data and summaries of internal audit work performed.
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 (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 if for the reporting of observed or suspected fraud, waste, abuse or misuse of McHenry County government resources or assets and callers can remain anonymous. I personally field these calls from a special phone within my office. If the call does not pertain directly to McHenry County government, I have provided callers with contact information for 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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Candidate did not respond.
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