The DeKalb Audit Oversight Committee held its first official meeting Friday as it prepares to hire a watchdog over the county’s government. From left: Harmel Codi, Monice Miles, Gina Major and Harold Smith Jr. Committee member Belinda Pedrosa participated by phone.

DeKalb oversight panel gets to work

The effort to hire a financial watchdog over DeKalb County government began Friday when the county’s Audit Oversight Committee held its first official meeting.

DeKalb’s independent auditor will be responsible for finding fraud, reducing inefficiencies and exposing waste. Candidates for the job will be recruited through a national search and then selected by the committee.

Committee Chairman Harold Smith said the auditor will improve DeKalb’s government.

“What we are looking to do is turn this thing around,” Smith said during the meeting. “Clean up the county — we’re just a small part of it, but maybe we can jump-start that process.”

The committee, made up of five citizens, gathered after resolving a dispute over whether a state senator could rescind her appointment of Harmel Codi to the panel.

Sen. Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, had questioned Codi’s qualifications and political activism, but Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens determined this month that Codi should remain.

“We’re here because we have a vested interested in reforming DeKalb County,” Codi said. “My position here is to make sure, like all of us, that things are done in a fair, equitable and transparent way.”

When hired, the independent auditor will manage an office with about 13 employees, according to a draft budget reviewed by the committee. The proposal seeks a $1.8 million annual budget, but the DeKalb Commission plans to vote next week on a countywide budget that includes $1 million for the audit office.

Adjustments to the auditor’s budget could be made in the county’s midyear budget in July, Smith said.

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