Every employee in the state auditor’s office will be taking six unpaid days off from January through June. State Auditor Dave Vaudt says that’s how he decided to impose the 10% across-the-board reduction the governor ordered in executive branch agencies.
“Once we took a look at the numbers for the most recent across-the-board cuts, we decided that the best way for us to address the total appropriate decrease that we had — which was about 36% over what last year was — was to implement some furlough days for our employees,” Vaudt says.
Vaudt’s salary is set by the legislature and he intends to reduce his salary by the equivalent of six furlough days, too, and return that money to the state treasury. Last spring, the Democratically-led legislature drafted a budget for the auditor’s office that was about 27 percent less than the previous year’s. The state budgeting year began on July 1st. In October, Governor Culver, a Democrat, ordered a 10 percent cut in executive branch agencies, including the auditor’s office. The auditor, who is a Republican, says none of his staff are getting raises or promotions this year and Vaudt says he decided upon furloughs rather than layoffs to deal with the reduced budget.
“What we’re going to do is have every employee take one day a month starting in January,” Vaudt says. “So that would be six days over the next six months.” Vaudt says if you take the across-the-board cut the governor ordered last month and combine that with the reduction legislators and the governor enacted in the spring, his office is operating with a budget in the current year that’s 36 percent less than it was last year.
“(It) will impact the level of service that we can provide for state audit services, which will more than likely mean we will have a qualification in our audit report this year,” Vaudt says. “…We will not be able to say that everything is fairly presented because we won’t have adequate resources to audit all the services that we need to audit in order to present that type of an opinion, so it will have an impact on the report that we issue.”
Vaudt’s office performs a number of audits of local government agencies, ranging from school districts to city councils to county agencies that handle solid waste disposal. Those local government agencies have the option of hiring an auditing firm or hiring the state auditor’s office to conduct those audits, so state taxpayers don’t bear the cost for those. Auditors from Vaudt’s office are currently working on an audit of the state film office, work that is being financed with state funds.