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Paperclips

Mabton residents should review city audit before heading to polls

After a close review of Mabton's state audit results I've concluded that voters need to inspect the document closely before heading to the polls to elect a mayor this coming fall.

What's most troubling to me is that the audit report clearly states the city's very ability to operate is at risk.

For some, the audit report may be too intimidating or verbose to follow. Here's how to read an audit report, and we'll use Mabton's as an example:

State auditors had four findings but a bevy of information to back them up.

When reading an audit report, it first lists a finding. Findings are issued when something is wrong and potential taxpayer dollars are at risk.

State auditors then give background information. Descriptions of condition, which comes next, substantiate the finding.

One unsettling thing about this audit is that there are 50 descriptions of condition. That means 50 reasons why the auditors reached the conclusions that they did.

The auditors then list the cause of the condition. In other words, who or what is to blame.

Next, auditors list recommendations to clean things up. The city is then allowed a chance to reply, a chance to explain circumstances that led to the finding.

At the end of every finding, auditors cite state and federal laws that back up their claims that something is wrong with the way taxpayer dollars are spent.

Simplifying such a document isn't easy, which is why it would behoove Mabton voters to sit down in a group, audit reports in hand, and carefully pour over them.

The audit is available at http://www.sao.wa.gov/findings/1001678.pdf.

By studying it in a group discussion, a bigger picture would become clear-not just that Mabton has overspent by more than a half million dollars over the past several years, or that the mayor abused her power and allowed others to gain from it.

I think Mabton voters need to wonder where the city's headed, especially when terms like 'ability to operate is at risk,' as well as determine who they'd like to take them there.

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