To the Times:
I am David Boonin of Swarthmore, the Democratic candidate for Delaware County Controller. We need to change the controller’s office from a complacent rubber stamp that just totals the county’s expenses and pays wasteful bills to an office that assures that our tax dollars are spent efficiently. Mandated financial audits are not enough.
We must have management audits that ask hard questions, identifying waste and inefficiency. Do we have too many departments and too many managers? Are we getting our money’s worth from the 187 lawyers on the payroll? Are we paying too much for our employees’ benefits or can we save something like the 40 percent that Milbourne saved when shifting from the county’s vendor? Are our prison and nursing home run efficiently? Are expense account expenditures for elected officials and department heads averaging about $400,000 per year reasonable? Can we justify spending 25 percent of our Community Development Block Grants on overhead rather than programs?
I asked the county to provide the last two management audits on any of its agency and was told that no such documents exist. Recently, the county’s executive director displayed total ignorance of the difference between financial audits and management audits. It is as if the county doesn’t want to know nor the public to know about the chronic waste. I have extensive experience with management audits and have found that previously unaudited organizations typically find savings over 10 percent. As the county’s independent fiscal watchdog, if county council won’t fund these audits, I will turn to the public for contributions.
In addition to management audits to improve the county’s fiscal efficiency, I will encourage county council to adopt zero-based budgeting, which challenges each department to build a budget from the ground up, producing more insightful and usually leaner budgets. As an example of potential savings from zero-based budgeting, county council has approved budgets for the past four years with funding for a workforce that includes about 9 percent unfilled positions, creating fat budgets that contributed to out-of-control tax increases.
Financial audits and controls are an important part of the controller’s function. However, the county’s controller did not uncover theft of $162,000 in cash by the Deputy Register of Wills cash over a five year period. The county’s auditors repeatedly find that county’s bank reconciliations are incorrect and recommend that the county change its procedures. I also plan to break the cozy relationship between the Republican controller and the auditors he uses year after year, ignoring best practices. As a registered Independent, I will not be beholden to a political machine as is my opponent for both his job as controller and his other full-time government job.
Management audits that uncover waste, zero-based budgeting that challenge traditional spending patterns and arms-length financial audits, are only part of what I hope to bring to county’s residents and businesses. As a regional economic planner, I expect to contribute to its economic development plans, as I was disappointed in the recently released effort. We need more action and less discussion.
I plan to put independence, objectivity and tenacity into the controller’s office. I will deploy the same level on analytical rigor that I used to save Pennsylvanians billions of dollars on their utility bills over my career. I have identified potential savings, conservatively estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. These savings can help county council cut our property taxes without cutting services. If I can do this as an outside observer, imagine what I can do as an insider with access to better information and resources. The choice is yours. Vote for a new vision of efficiency and independence or for waste and complacency. I ask that you for your vote in my quest to make a better Delaware County.
Democrat for County Controller
LETTER: Boonin: I'll bring new vision as Delco controller
To the Times: