York County Commissioners approved a contract for auditing services in a split vote Wednesday, but not before two members of the board called out County Controller Robb Green for not comparing prices on a more local firm.
With Commissioner Doug Hoke as the dissenting vote, the board approved spending about $230,000 per year for the next three years to contract with Harrisburg-based Zelenkofske Axelrod to perform audits for the county.
Hoke said it's the county's policy to shop locally and compare prices. He said he would have preferred to see a summary sheet from Green, listing several local firms for price-comparison purposes.
Green said the county has contracted with the Harrisburg firm since 2005. He said his office has cut more than $200,000 annually in costs by, among other initiatives, reducing staff by three people - including two auditors.
The decision to contract with Axelrod again was more about experience than price. With his shortage of staff, he's increasingly dependent on the auditing firm, he said.
The county has a productive relationship with the firm, and hiring someone new now would take more time and require a "learning curve" until the new firm became familiar with county operations, he said.
"Given our reductions in staff and the salary savings to the county, the Controller's office cannot assume more work related to the audit," he said. "In addition, a new audit firm would face a tremendous learning curve and would invest in significant preparation work on the CPA's part and my Controller's office staff. This would result in increased costs and additional time to prepare and complete the audit work."
Hoke said there are other highly qualified local firms, and it's not good practice to assume a firm can have a job "for 10,14, 15, 20 years" just because it did a good job.
It's also beneficial, in auditing, to have a fresh set of eyes, he said.
While Hoke voted against the measure, President Commissioner Steve Chronister voted in favor despite his own objections. Commissioner Chris Reilly didn't voice objections and voted in favor.
Chronister said he sought an estimate from a firm with an office in York and was quoted a "significantly lower" price for the same auditing work. He declined to provide the name of the firm or the amount of the quote.
He said he sought legal advice from assistant solicitor Donald Reihart, and was told the county doesn't have to bid professional services. As an elected row officer, Green can hire whoever he wants, though final approval goes through commissioners, he said.
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