Joan Pratt, Baltimore City’s Comptroller since 1995, is facing her first challenger in 17 years. He’s Mike King, a Northeast Baltimore resident with a background in financial operations, and he says Pratt hasn’t done enough to audit city agencies.
“I think that the reason we’re bringing outside people right now is because of the inaction of the Comptroller’s Office,” King says.
But Pratt, who oversees the Department of Audits, says her office is doing several required annual audits, including the city’s comprehensive annual finance report – which is needed to maintain the city’s bond rating –and an audit of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
In addition, voters added mandates for quadrennial audits of 13 city agencies to the city charter in 2012.
She says she hasn’t ordered more audits because her department has been under funded for the last decade.
“When I first came to office, we had 50 auditors,” Pratt says. “Today, We have 39 auditors; and it’s been low as 29.”
Pratt says the city is in the process of hiring more auditors at a more competitive salary. She adds Baltimore until recently had not been able to compete with the state and federal governments when it came to hiring them.
But King says if audits were important to Pratt, she would spend more of her $17 million budget on them.
He says he’d call for audits of all 55 city agencies.
“My number one priority is audits,” he says. “That’s what I’m going to spend 100 percent of my time doing is making sure these audits are getting completed and that they’re in an annually scheduled process for those audits.”
Pratt says she would like to do more audits as well and hopes that her office will get the money in the city budget to do so.
And as the Comptroller oversees the city Department of Real Estate, both candidates said they would like to see something done with the 4,000 city-owned vacant properties that benefit communities.