The town auditor plays a vital role in preserving the democratic nature of Vermont’s local government by ensuring that local officials are accountable for their expenditures of the taxpayers’ money. It is the auditor’s job to review the accounts of local officials and report the findings directly to the taxpayers for review.
According to the VLCT, because the town auditors act as a watchdog over the accounts of the other elected officials, the statutes prohibit the auditor and his or her spouse from holding other town offices. This rule is meant to prevent conflicts of interest from arising. Vermont Statutes specifically state that “[a]n auditor shall not be town clerk, town treasurer, selectman, first constable, collector of current or delinquent taxes, trustee of public funds, town manager, road commissioner, water commissioner, sewage system commissioner, sewage disposal commissioner, or town district school director; nor shall a spouse of or any person assisting any of these officers in the discharge of their official duties be eligible to hold office as auditor.” 17 V.S.A. § 2647.
Under 17 V.S.A. § 2651b, passed in 1998, a town may vote by ballot at an annual town meeting to eliminate the office of town auditor. This authority extends to all towns, whether or not they have a charter provision covering election of auditors. If the town does vote to eliminate the office of auditor, the selectboard of the town will then contract with a public accountant (CPA), who is licensed in Vermont, to perform an annual financial audit of all town funds. The selectboard must also provide for all other services the elected auditors previously performed.