Every year, whether it is an election year or a legislative year, many new faces appear in Texas political offices. For this reason, the Texas Association of County Auditors (TACA) has prepared this leaflet to help familiarize our legislators and other political office holders with the duties and responsibilities of a County Auditor.
Why have a County Auditor?
There are many reasons to have a County Auditor, but the main one is to maintain the integrity of financial administration in county government. The County Auditor, by law, has oversight of all financial books and records of all officers of the County and is charged with administering the budget. Commissioners Court, by law, is the governing and administrative body in county government. Among the many duties of Commissioners Court is the power to determine the county budget and make appropriations of funds to meet that budget. Both the County Auditor and Commissioners Court are required-again by law-to approve or reject claims for disbursement of county funds. Simply put, the integrity of county financial administration is entrusted to a dual control system of "checks and balances." This system works, not just because there is a County Auditor and not just because there is a Commissioners Court; it works because neither has creative or authoritative control over the other.
Every two years the state District Judge or Judges having jurisdiction in a county of over 10,000 population shall appoint a County Auditor. (Local Government Code 84.002). This act established one aspect of the "checks and balances" system. The office of County Auditor is neither created by nor under the hierarchical control of the administrative body-the Commissioners Court.
A County Auditor...
- forecasts financial data for budgetary formulation purposes
- audits the records and accounts of the various county departments
- administers the county budget as approved by Commissioners Court
- prepares and administers accounting records for all county funds
A County Auditor is...
- a person of unquestionably good moral character and intelligence
- thoroughly competent in the administration of public business
- a competent accountant, qualified in auditing and accounting, having a minimum of 2 years prior experience in these areas
- skilled in the interpersonal relationships and office management
The County Auditor...
- acts as an accountant has a general oversight of all the books and records of all County Officials
- is charged with strictly enforcing laws governing county finances
- acts as an economist advises Commissioners Court concerning financial conditions as they affect the decision-making process
- in many counties performs additionally as Personnel Officer, Purchasing Officer, and/or Data Processing Manager