Applications sought for new auditor

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Burnet County Auditor Karen Hardin's tenure with the county apparently will end Sept. 30 after 33rd District Judge Allan Garrett and 424th District Judge Evan Stubbs voted Friday morning not to appoint an auditor at this time, but to “open the position up for applications” during a public hearing in the district courtroom.

“The appointment for auditor is a two-year appointment and the appointment ends on Sept. 30. Our intent at this time is not to make an appointment,” Stubbs said Friday. “This does not mean Mrs. Hardin will not be considered for the position.

“We will open the position up for applications to whoever wishes to apply, and once we get a suitable pool of qualified applicants, we will do interviews, and then we will call another hearing and make the appointment. No one is excluded from the process.”

At that appointment hearing, the judges will set compensation for the new Burnet County auditor, Stubbs added.

Asked why the judges were not reappointing Hardin at this time, Garrett said his policy “is not to talk in public about personnel issues due to privacy concerns.”

Hardin was not present at Friday's public hearing and was expected to be out of her office until after Labor Day. It was not immediately clear whether Hardin would be reapplying for her position.

The Abilene accounting firm of Eide Bailly, which performed Burnet County's most recent audit earlier this year, gave the county a “clean” opinion, indicating all financial statements indicated the true financial position of the county in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. Burnet County has been recognized for excellence in financial reporting for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR.

Because Hardin also serves as the purchasing agent not just for Burnet County, but also Llano, Blanco and San Saba counties, the judges voted to appoint Hardin's top assistant, Carole Poppema, to take over as interim purchasing agent on Oct. 1 until a new auditor is appointed. Poppema will be eligible to receive a prorated share of the stipend paid to the purchasing agent until a new agent is appointed.

The district judges for the 33rd and 424th Judicial Districts oversee the appointment of the auditors for the four counties within their region so the auditors can operate independently of their respective commissioners courts.

While the commissioners court is the official budgeting body for the county, both the auditor and commissioners court are required by law to approve or reject claims for disbursement of county funds.

A county auditor's primary responsibility is to oversee financial recordkeeping for their county and to ensure all expenditures comply with the county budget. By law, a county auditor has continuous access to all books and financial records, and conducts detailed reviews of all county financial operations.

Garrett and Stubbs also set the annual compensation, travel expenses and other allowances for the auditors and assistant auditors for all four counties as well as compensation for their official court reporters.

The four counties split the expenses for paying the court reporters, with Burnet County paying 54.98 percent of the cost, Llano County paying 23.92 percent, Blanco County paying 13.52 percent and San Saba County paying 7.58 percent.

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