Kentucky seems to be getting some pretty good bang from the buck from its state auditor’s office.
Just yesterday there was a major news conference about corrupt activities the Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts discovered in the financial office of the City of Covington. The former finance officer there bilked the taxpayers to the tune of nearly $800,000 over a 10-year period. Finally, after getting a tip, the auditor (who normally does not do city level audits) caught up with him.
Not quite a year ago, the auditor’s office clamped down on another multi-year misappropriation debacle in the Dayton Independent School District. William “Gary” Rye, the former superintendent, took nearly $224,000. Again, a tip led the state auditor, who normally does not look at schools, to this scam.
Other audits just in the Northern Kentucky area have disclosed additional hundreds of thousands of dollars of dubious uses of tax dollars by public officials and employees for expensive dinners and outings to places like Las Vegas.
The amazing thing is the state audit agency’s Tom Bennett told the Bluegrass Institute this week that they operate on a very modest $11 million annual budget although their standard workload requires the office to complete hundreds of audits every year before they even think about the special audits such as the ones conducted in Covington and in Dayton schools.
Bennett also informed me that the annual starting salary for a state auditor, who must have a degree in accounting, is only $31,079. Auditors work year round, which, allowing for a two-week vacation, would be about 250 work days per year. That works out to $124.32 per day.
In notable contrast, Kentucky’s starting teacher salary, according to the latest information from the National Education Association, is notably higher at $35,166 per year. I think the standard contract for Kentucky teachers only includes 185-188 work days per year. So, a starting teacher’s salary works out to $187 to $190.09 per work day, which is over 50 percent more per work day than new auditors get.
Teaching is an important profession. However, given the accounting and forensic skills needed to do the auditor’s job (probably accompanied by a degree of personal risk, given the amounts of money involved in some of these fraud cases), somehow the pay disparity seems a bit surprising.