GREENVILLE – Keith Faber, who was sworn in as Ohio auditor in January, is pushing local and state officials to accept initiatives he said will save Ohio taxpayers money.
Faber was the headline speaker at the Darke County Chamber of Commerce’s 12th annual Groundhog Day Event on Friday at Romer’s Catering in Greenville where he spoke to business leaders about proposals he’s pushing across the state.
“We’re really excited, and so far we’ve hit the ground running,” Faber said of his new role as Ohio auditor. “We’re already finding ways to make our operation more efficient, and we’re looking to try to extrapolate that to some state agencies.”
The Auditor’s Office audits all public offices in Ohio, which includes almost 6,000 organizations. The office’s mandate is to help agencies save money and prosecute individuals who commit fraud with taxpayer money.
Faber is pushing the state legislature to adopt new regulations he said will help the Auditor’s Office in its mission.
“The big thing is we need help from the legislature, one, to make our tools available to more local governments, and two, to help give us some authority to go in and do more of what we’ve shown has a good rate of return on investment for Ohio taxpayers,” Faber said.
The Auditor’s Office is authorized to conduct one higher education performance audit a year. A small scale audit of The Ohio State University’s information technology and printing services alone found approximately $6 million in savings, Faber said.
By allowing the Auditor’s Office to undertake more higher education performance audits, colleges could make education more affordable by making them more efficient, Faber said.
“We’re authorized to do one higher education performance audit a year now,” he said. “I want that limitation taken off. I want to be able to do more. It would be 20 years before we get through all the higher education institutions at one a year. I want to be able to do as many as we can logically assess because, candidly, there shouldn’t be a limit on savings.”
Faber also wants the legislature to create a fund to help schools, cities, villages and townships pay for performance audits. The state currently completes about 15 performance audits a year, Faber said, and a dedicated fund could spur more public officials to push for cost-saving audits.
“We want an increase in the shared partnership between the state and the locals, to have the state pick up some of those audit expenses, because, candidly, it’s things that are going to benefit all Ohioans,” Faber said.
“Ohioans don’t think about tax dollars about left pocket, right pocket. They think about tax dollars that they pay, and whether they’re paying it as a property tax to their schools or they’re paying it as an income tax to their city or state income tax, they realize it’s all their money. And so we work for Bob and Betty Buckeye collectively. And when we can use the tools we have at our desecration at the state Auditor’s Office to help make your local school district or your local city more efficient, we want to make sure we can employ those tools in partnership with them.”
The rate is return on performance audits is $22 for every dollar spent, Faber said. By identifying cost-saving measures, he thinks the extra work could save money for taxpayers.
“I don’t really want more money,” Faber said. “I want more authority.”
Faber, a former state representative and senator from Celina, said Friday’s appearance at the Darke County Chamber of Commerce event was his first back in his former district since assuming the auditor position. He said he’s excited about the position because he views it as the one executive office in the state that can change the way government works.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.