Hawaii County may soon have a new legislative auditor, more than a year after the position became vacant.
Bonnie Nims, a senior performance auditor who worked for 16 years for the state of Washington and more recently, as a performance auditor supervisor at the American Samoa Government Territorial Audit Office, would be appointed in Resolution 313, scheduled to be voted on March 7 by the Hawaii County Council. If the resolution is passed, she will begin work May 1.
Sims is a certified government auditing professional. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful Tuesday.
The auditor, a position set by county charter, serves for six years unless removed for cause by a two-thirds vote of the council. The mayor has no say in the appointment or removal of the auditor.
“We believe she’s the most qualified person for the position,” said Council Chairman J Yoshimoto. “She seemed the best fit for the auditor position for this county.”
South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford agreed.
“She has an impressive resume in terms of training and credentials and she’s going to be an asset to this county,” Ford said.
A 2008 charter amendment requires the County Council to appoint an auditor who has free rein to inspect county records and require employees to be available for questioning as the auditor prepares performance and financial audits of administrative and legislative departments.
Council members have held a series of executive sessions on their auditor selection, and last month interviewed two applicants: Nims, and former Deputy Auditor Lane Shibata, who has been acting auditor.
The council late last year advertised nationally for an auditor through professional associations. Former Auditor Colleen Schrandt, who earned $94,284 annually and oversaw a staff of four, had endorsed Shibata as a permanent replacement. She was the county’s first auditor after the charter amendment was passed.
Schrandt, who was often frustrated in her quest to conduct more thorough, tougher audits, left the county in December 2012 to take a job with the United Nations in New York City. Her tenure in Hawaii County was sometimes fraught with controversy, as council members who opposed her as auditor frequently attacked her budget.
Neither Ford nor Yoshimoto saw bringing in someone from out of the county as an advantage or a disadvantage.
“That’s immaterial,” Ford said. “We chose a person who I believe was the most qualified. The fact they come from someplace else is just not relevant to me.”