Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Legislature passes bill strengthening audit process for cities

Bill Updating Audit Process for Cities Sent to Governor

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 11th) – Legislation reforming the financial audit process for Oklahoma municipalities has received its final stamp of approval from the Oklahoma House of Representatives and has been sent to the governor's desk.

House Bill 1058, authored by Rep. Brad Boles, R-Marlow, modifies the audit requirement for municipalities with an income of at least $50,000 and a population of less than 2,500.  

Boles, a former mayor, said this policy has been something he has worked on since 2019 and appreciates the State Auditor's office as well as the Oklahoma Municipal League's support on developing this comprehensive audit reform for smaller municipalities which is very much needed in Oklahoma.

"This policy will help improve taxpayer transparency at the local municipal government level while at the same time be beneficial to these smaller municipalities by updating our state statutes with a more modernized set of audit requirements while also potentially reducing audit fees and costs," Boles said.

If signed into law, HB1058 would also set up a revolving fund for the special investigative unit (SIU) division. Gas taxes withheld from municipalities that don't comply with audit would be placed in the revolving fund to help municipalities stay in compliance.

"There are many small communities in our state that have not been able to participate in grant and bond opportunities because they are behind on their audits," Boles said. "This bill gives additional support to the auditor's office to help these communities get back into audit compliance. Once a community is up to date on their audits, they're eligible to apply for grant and bond opportunities. Most importantly, this will give the public a more accurate accounting of taxpayer's money."

Boles worked closely with State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd to develop the legislation.

“Representative Boles and the Oklahoma Municipal League worked extremely hard to get this important bill passed and we thank them on behalf of every Oklahoma taxpayer," Byrd said. "House Bill 1058 will transform the way our office can provide financial oversight of municipal governments. This is great legislation because it’s a preventative measure that will catch any fraud, waste, or abuse before it becomes a significant problem. Every city and town in our state will now operate with a higher level of financial transparency and accountability and that is a victory for every taxpayer in Oklahoma.”

Mike Fina, executive director of the Oklahoma Municipal League, also worked with Boles on the bill.

“The cities and towns across Oklahoma applaud the efforts of the Legislature in passing this legislation to strengthen municipal audits,” said Fina. “The new audit procedures will allow smaller municipalities to apply for funding opportunities that might otherwise be unavailable to them, and will ensure that all municipal funds are properly accounted for on a regular basis.”

HB1058 was authored in the Senate by Sen. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, and would go into effect July 1.


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