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Auditor candidates speak of skills, differences

by Dave Kinnamon
Landmark assistant editor

The two candidates vying to replace Sandra Thomas as Platte County auditor draw definite distinctions between themselves and their opponent.

Siobhann (pronounced shuh-vawn) K. Williams, the Democrat candidate for Platte County auditor, highlights her certified public accountant (CPA) credential, a credit her Republican opponent, Ruby Maline, lacks.

Williams also points to many years of experience as a corporate accountant. Williams serves as a high-level accountant, working in the finance division of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.

Ruby Maline, the current deputy Platte County auditor, highlights her decade of experience in the actual Platte County auditor’s office.

“I have Platte County-specific experience, 10 years of it,” Maline told The Landmark.

Maline also emphasized the huge size, in dollars, of the Platte County budget.

Platte County has an annual budget of over $65 million, $110 million in capital assets, $85 million in bonded indebtedness, three TIF (tax increment financing) projects, one transportation development district (TDD) and 221 miles of roads, among several other high profile budgetary responsibilities, Maline said.

“That’s an awful lot to ask of someone who has never handled it before,” Maline said.

Williams, on the other hand, points to her record of “streamlining” financial systems.

“I have a lot of experience streamlining accounting processes to make them more efficient. I really take the straightest line possible to the objective,” Williams said.

Williams again drew a bold line of distinction between her own credentials and Ruby Maline’s.

“I’m the only CPA running for county auditor. I’m the only candidate able to bring a new set of eyes to the office,” Williams said.

Sandra Thomas, the Platte County auditor for the past 12 years, is the Republican candidate to replace Claire McCaskill as Missouri state auditor.

Thomas’ office, in which Maline serves as her chief deputy, has been criticized the past few months over a $195,000 accounting discrepancy announced in July by the county treasurer, Bonnie Brown.

Brown serves as the treasurer for Williams’ campaign.

Williams has emphasized that as a CPA “with a proven record of successful financial management systems,” she would implement procedures at the Platte County auditor’s office which would keep the county’s cash and investments balanced.

William also said that, if elected, she would end the “current practice of paying outside auditors to win awards.”

Williams stated in a Monday press release that she believes that Thomas’s record of nine consecutive “Certificates of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program,” items that Thomas frequently highlights in her state auditor race, are solely the result of the work done by the county’s external auditor, Troutt, Beeman & Co., of Harrisonville.

“If I win an award, I want it to be for my own work,” stated Williams. “It just isn’t right for the office to make the taxpayers pay extra for something and then claim credit for someone else’s work.”

“If the county has a fully-trained and qualified CPA as the county auditor, then there is no reason to pay an outside party to perform this service,” Williams stated.

“With my experience working with these reports as an outside auditor and CPA, the transition to preparing the comprehensive annual financial report in-house should be a smooth one. If elected, I plan to make this change immediately upon taking office,” Williams stated.



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