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Acting City Auditor Taylor Dudley retiring after 19 years in local government

Thursday, October 1, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Curiosity led Taylor Dudley to an unpaid internship at the City Auditor’s Office in 1990 when he was a senior at the University of Texas. That led to an entry-level auditor job, hard work, and a chance to satisfy his curiosity about nearly every aspect of city operations.


“I had not realized the extent to which the office both got to look at the entire breadth of city operations and the tremendous number of services the city encompasses,” Dudley said on his next-to-last day as Acting City Auditor and as a city employee.


“It was really neat to be able to go out one month to the airport and later be sent to the hospital, later sent to an electric utility. Those are not necessarily the things you think about doing when you think about being a government auditor in school. I’m not sure I understood everything … when you get to do performance audits … all the questions you can ask about efficiency and effectiveness in government operations — there’s an endless pool of possibilities,” he said.


Dudley, 47, rose to the rank of Deputy City Auditor and became Acting City Auditor in February upon the retirement of Steve Morgan.


In the last few years, auditors have concentrated their efforts in a new area: revenue. This includes making sure the city is getting credit for all the sales taxes the state collects from retailers within the city limits.


“I do think it was very eye-opening to me when we started doing some of the sales tax work, the degree to which the cities are forced to rely on the state — and yet, like everything else that involves humans it may not be a completely perfect process. I think that same type of thinking has filtered into several of the revenue-related audits over the last several years,” he said. That includes audits of hotel-motel taxes. A 2005 audit showed that the city was owed nearly $700,000 in back taxes by hotels and motels but had not taken legal action to collect them for almost a decade. At the time, auditors noted how difficult it was to determine how much revenue was owed because of differences in the reporting systems used by the State Comptroller’s Office and the city.


Last year, Time-Warner gave the city a check for $1.8 million after auditors discovered discrepancies in the amount of money owed for the cable company’s use of Austin Energy’s poles and the amount that had been paid. In August, a second phase of the telecommunication-fee audit showed other providers owed the city nearly $300,000.


“I was proud of the work that we did, to make sure we got credit for all the fees,” Dudley said.


Dudley said his parents are moving to a retirement community in Corpus Christi and he feels the need to help them with that transition. In addition, he has relatives in other parts of the country he wants to visit. “I also have 50 acres in West Virginia, the family homestead,” he said, which dates back to Revolutionary times. The last survey done before Dudley ordered one was from the 1850s, he noted. There’s also an old family cemetery that needs work. “I’ve been trying to get the family heritage cleaned up,” he said.


Dudley did not apply for the City Auditor position because he was planning on retiring in July. However, he stayed for a couple extra months to make the transition to a new auditor chief easier for the city.


The Council is expected to name Corrie Stokes as Acting City Auditor today. There are three finalists for the permanent post: Kenneth J. Mory, Chief of Audits for the County of San Diego, California; Steve Shepherd, City Auditor, City of Denton, Texas; and Anthony B. Ross Sr., Financial Manager/Internal Audit Manager, Austin Energy.


That group is scheduled to meet and greet the public and the Council on Oct. 14. The new auditor will be chosen on Oct. 15.

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