George Danos

George Danos

Democrat Party

County Auditor Candidate

Questions & Answers

For the November 2018 Election

What is the importance of the County Auditor to residents in Champaign County?

The County Auditor has two main functions, which both impact the county resident financially. The first is that of comptroller: the Auditor is responsible for the accurate and timely reporting of the county’s financial position and performance. These reports come on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Dependable statements give all economic players confidence in making decisions. Businesses rely on them to invest, banks on whether to loan and employers on whether to hire.

The other role is to perform oversight of county expenditures. The accounts payable function makes sure that vendors are paid correctly and on time. This enhances the reliability of the county to provide services -- but it also makes sure that the taxpayers’ funds are legitimately and precisely dispensed.

Why are you qualified to be the County Auditor?

I bring Certified Public Accounting experience and true independence, both absolutely critical attributes for an auditor, especially now, when we 1) have back-to-back budget deficits and 2) have not yet produced last year’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

As a University of Illinois-trained and licensed CPA, I have worked both in Big Four public accounting and in corporate financial reporting for large financial services and nonprofits. If elected, I would be the first CPA to serve as Champaign County Auditor. My certification and private sector experience distinguish me from all other Auditor candidates, past and present.

Moreover, if elected, I will have owed my election to the taxpaying public alone. By contrast, the present auditor was selected by the Republican Central Committee, which sent its recommendation to the County Board. But the Auditor has to challenge the expenditures of both county officers (who helped select her) and the Board (which confirmed the appointment). Despite her best intentions, this history compromises her independence. According to the standards of the accounting profession, she has what is called a “familiarity threat” to her independence.

In my current position, I perform month-end and fiscal year close, accrual accounting, and oversight of specialized Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable. Quite recently, I saved my employer nearly $2 million dollars by vigorously back-engineering the inadequate reconciliation process used for a complicated contract.

Champaign County now has year-to-year budget deficits that will dry up its reserves and put us in the red within one year. Before the County Board seeks to raise taxes, I will do my fiscally responsible best by ensuring that no vendor, whether by mistake or intention, obtains more than what is contractually due. Generally speaking, for-profit entities do a good job of looking out for their interests. As taxpayers we need someone just as tenacious in looking out for our interests.

What is a key policy difference between you and your Opponent?

We differ on the financial position of the county, and thus on whether to take an active approach to the auditor’s office. At the September 14 Candidate Forum, I cited our county’s published budget projections of successive budget deficits and the depletion of the general fund, while my opponent insisted that the budget is balanced. I pointed out that this was done by counting on contingent revenues (not a proper accounting approach.) The 2018 budget was balanced--on paper--by optimistically forecasting the receipt of property taxes from hospitals. Five days later, Illinois Supreme Court ruled to keep the hospitals tax exempt, as the News-Gazette reported:

As auditor, I will continue to take the orthodox accounting approach of not counting on uncertain revenue -- and by vigorously challenging spending proposals that bank on rosy assumptions, thus keeping us fiscally sound and protecting taxpayers from compensatory tax increases in the future.

Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter in Champaign County?

Local government, by its very nature, has the most direct impact on your life. As a voter, you have a greater impact such races (i.e., you are more likely to cast the deciding vote; the last auditor’s race was decided by a mere 36 votes!) The Auditor is a position well defined by its mission. It demands professionalism and a minimum of politics. I was honored to have the endorsement of the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, and I hope to have yours as well!