Updated 07/10/2012 05:54 PM
City auditor says he’s working hard
Syracuse's new city auditor says his office may not be making headlines, but don't mistake that for a lack of work. YNN's Bill Carey says Marty Masterpole is taking what he believes is a more effective approach to the job as watchdog of city spending.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Republican Roy Bernardi. Democrats Minch Lewis and Phil LaTessa. Over the past few decades, Syracuse city auditors have often found themselves at odds with mayors of both parties. And that's the way many believe things should be. But the man who assumed the auditor's role just six months ago, former common councilor Marty Masterpole, says it's time things changed.
“I think we get more accomplished moving forward together than just, let me find things that I can disagree with them and attack,” Masterpole said.
Masterpole's opponents have long noted his close relationship over the years with both Mayor Stephanie Miner and her chief of staff, former common councilor William Ryan. They say that close relationship would keep Masterpole from taking an independent look at the city books.
The questions grew more intense during the 2011 political season when Masterpole gladly accepted contributions from Mayor Miner, the person he would be scrutinizing once he was elected. But Masterpole says good relationships are not a bad thing.
“I'm not here to fight,” Masterpole said. “If we are at odds at every turn, it's just going to become white noise and fights in the media and in the newspaper. It doesn't serve the people well.”
A half year into his new job, Masterpole says rather than issue report after report, he has focused on making sure recommendations from an outside auditor are being implemented by city departments and that managers of those departments are taking the steps they said they would take, to ease city costs.
Masterpole said, “Here's where the shortcomings are. Here's where you say how you were going to correct it. Where are the corrections? And making sure that happens.”
Masterpole says the public sometimes has the view that public employees don't care about taxpayer funds, but he's found in his six months of reviewing the numbers that that's not the case.
“With the first six months, the departments have been cooperative and I have no reason to believe that they're not trying to do the best for the city,” said Masterpole.
With the challenges in dealing with future budget deficits, Masterpole says the work by those departments and his office will be growing more difficult in the months and years ahead.
The auditor's office recently issued a report on compliance with Syracuse's living wage law. Marty Masterpole says his next major report, due out soon, will deal with cars that some city police officials take home from work.