Amid leadership changes, Franks proposes shifting McHenry County auditor duties

As the McHenry County auditor’s office prepares for new leadership, County Board Chairman Jack Franks has proposed shifting the department’s responsibilities to put a greater emphasis on investigating waste and fraud.

Under his plan, which will be considered by the county board next week, the accounting and financial reporting duties previously performed by the auditor will be given to the county administration’s finance division, Franks said in a statement. The auditor’s office then would have more time and resources to spend on its primary function: auditing.

Franks said the plan was developed with help from the county’s chief deputy auditor Shannon Teresi, whom he is recommending to fill the auditor role vacated in January by Pam Palmer.

Teresi, a certified fraud examiner, internal auditor and public accountant, said she believes the auditor should be an objective, nonpartisan person focused on ensuring government funds are spent efficiently. Franks’ proposal will help accomplish that mission, she said.

“It’s a good segregation of duties to have accounting and auditing separate so we can strengthen the independence of our internal audit function,” Teresi said.

Teresi announced in February she is running for the auditor position in the November election. The county board is expected to vote next week on whether to appoint her to the role until then.

Under state law, auditors in counties with fewer than 275,000 people are given accounting and financial reporting responsibilities. McHenry County surpassed that population count several years ago, Franks said, but the additional workload was never removed from the auditor’s office.

“A county the size of McHenry County deserves to have an auditor’s office dedicated full time to auditing,” Franks said, noting it should be more of a “watchdog” position. His proposal also would improve efficiency, he said, by putting all financial functions under one department rather than splitting them between the auditor and administration.