The Baltimore City Council gave preliminary approval to a compromise charter amendment that would require the city to perform audits of 13 major city agencies every four years.
Initially the proposed amendment called for audits of 14 city agencies every two years, but amendments proposed by Councilman Robert Curran were tacked on and reduced the frequency and the number of agencies to be audited.
The bill is expected to pass on a final vote at a council meeting on Aug. 13 in time for the amendment to appear on November’s general election ballot. City agencies haven't been routinely audited in decades.
Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who abstained from voting on the bill, said the proposed amendment isn’t perfect but that her constituents should be allowed to at least vote on how often audits are performed.
"I would’ve preferred every two years required for an audit of major city agencies, but we didn’t have the votes for that," Clarke said.
Clarke was able to claim one victory when she used a parliamentary procedure to put to a vote an amendment that would have only required the city to conduct a performance audit. That amendment was defeated—and performance and financial audits will be required if voters approve the charter amendment.
Councilman Bill Henry, who also supported performing audits every two years, disputed that the bill was a compromise. He said it was a deal to appease Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
"From the feedback I’ve received [residents] barely understand why we're not doing it every year and they certainly thought every two years was reasonable. We’re compromising with the administration," Henry said. "The administration doesn’t want to do audits more often than every two years. They don’t really want to do audits."
Ian Brennan, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake, said the mayor has always and continues to support conducting audits on city agencies. Brennan blamed the resistance to audits on city's comptroller's office, which has the ability to audit an agency, and said voters will have to consider passing a charter amendment so an audit would be performed.
"The mayor has always supported more audits, of course, that’s why she increased funding to the comptroller’s office," Brennan said.