Chamber of Commerce Questionnaire: Catherine Smith

Indiana code defines the county auditor as the fiscal officer of the county. What are your specific qualifications and experience to act as the principal financial officer of the county?

Qualifications:

  • Solid, formal education which includes a Master’s Degree in Engineering, Executive MBA coursework in Finance and Accounting, and completion of many Ph.D.-level courses in Human Resource Development & Management
  • Over 25-years of professional experience in Project Engineering, Engineering Economy, Financial Management, and College Teaching
  • Thorough understanding of county and local government property taxation, taxation computations and multiple tax unit financial funding operations
  • Currently serving 8th year as Monroe County Treasurer; previously 4-years as Chief Deputy Auditor & County Financial Director -- managing 182 different funds, for 46 different departments & units, accountable for managing in excess of $100 million per year
  • Past Executive Director of the Hoosier Hills Chapter of the American Red Cross 

In recent years, the county has been under scrutiny about financial records. How will you improve county’s financial record keeping and make certain records are being reconciled in a timely manner?

Financial information travels linearly – Auditor to Treasurer, allowing Treasurer to balance Auditor’s checks, EFTs and deposits.  Balancing is impossible with chaotic, incomplete and inaccurate information.  As Auditor, I promise to personally: 

  • Provide daily accurate information
  • Provide complete and proper documentation
  • Properly audit each activity
  • Have two sets of eyes on every transaction
  • Act humbly, presenting information
  • Provide articulate, easily understood reasoning for each transaction
  • Transfer information electronically, making public-sharing easy
  • Honor Treasurer’s Office by understanding their reconciling’s contingent upon Auditor’s provision of good financial data
  • Work closely & collaboratively with Treasurer
  • Provided information egolessly and with a true servant’s heart
  • Eliminate “us versus them” mentality between offices and build solid, trusting working relationships
  • Lead with respect and accurate information, kindness, cooperation and complete transparency

What is the single most significant issue that will be at the top of your administrative priority for the Auditor's Office, and how will you resolve it?

Applying best practices to the County’s archaic method of accounting.  Currently the Auditor hand carries information (often handwritten) to the Treasurer in a sporadic and sometimes “willy-nilly” fashion, making it difficult to navigate or balance.  Additionally, current accounting software does not allow each transaction to migrate to the Treasurer as needed.  Immediate action is warranted to rectify these inconsistent financial data transfers. We must procure modern accounting software capable of transferring all transactions including EFTs, which represent the current standard of accounting transactions.  I will champion the process of implementing an accounting tool that will accurately enable every County transaction to be entered only once -- propagating seamlessly from Auditor to Treasurer, to bank, to cashbook -- making a complete electronic lifecycle.

How will you work with the commissioners and the county council to provide daily operational assistance and support?

Every day a quasi “Financial Report Card” will be delivered to both the Commissioners and the Council.  This information must be transferred daily to the Treasurer’s Office anyway, and under my leadership will be accomplished electronically.  This process makes it effortless to include a copy to Council and Commissioners.  Doing so eliminates their reliance on periodic snapshots of financial data.  Not only is this prudent, it’s smart as well.  My hope is this will be a useful tool that will become a best practice’s benchmark for County financial decision-making.  Additionally, I have an open door policy that promotes easy interaction with my office.  Everyone is always welcome.  Further, I am available 24/7 on my cellphone – no appointments necessary and I don’t screen my calls.

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