Chamber of Commerce Questionnaire: Kevin Easton

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?

My qualifications are both academic and professional. First, I have a bachelor's degree in Accounting and an MBA. I am eligible to sit for certification exams such as the CPA and CFE and my work experience qualifies me to be licensed should I pass the exams.
 
Professionally, I was an auditor for the Department of Defense, where I learned to design, perform, and report audits. I then became a contracts specialist, where I experienced negotiating and monitoring budgets and completing and filing reports. I now serve the state as a small business specialist, helping contractors ensure their accounting systems are set up correctly to perform on government contracts. I know accounting systems well enough to extract information from them to meet specific reporting requirements. 

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?

First I would implement changes necessary to remedy the findings of the Hartman and Williams report. Additionally, I intend to complete my own thorough review of both internal controls and workflow in the office.  
 
A key to successful record keeping is organization. I have much experience overseeing multiple complex tasks at once. Most of the reporting done by the Auditor is repetitive, and knowing what reports are needed, their content, and when to submit them is important to success.
 
Communication is another key to timely reconciliation of records. The Auditor must work closely with the financial bodies of the county to ensure information needed to complete their reports are received with sufficient lead time. Also, communication makes it easier to anticipate needs.

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?

The biggest issue with the Auditor's office is its image. The public has a negative view of the financial offices in Monroe County. The council no longer trusts the information it receives. My priority in the office is to restore faith and trust in the office and the information it produces.
 
My solution is to instill a culture of transparency in both communication and information. I will have an open door environment for employees and be actively engaged with other county employees and the public. Expectations will be clear. I will champion the creation of a portal for all county financial information, providing the public the ability to easily track every dollar that flows into and out of county government.

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

The Auditor's support and assistance for the commissioners and council starts with communication. Both the council and commissioners must trust the information they receive from the office. The information must be intelligible yet thorough enough to meet the requested need. In order to do that the Auditor must be in daily communication with the council, commissioners, and other county offices in order to understand their needs and answer any questions or issues that arise in a timely manner. I take pride in making myself available to those needing to communicate with me in whatever manner they find most comfortable, and between the phone, email, text, or even social media, I will be available to make sure the Auditor's office communicates effectively to meet its mission.

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