The office of County Auditor was established in specified counties by the Texas Legislature in 1905. The creation of the Auditor’s office was done by statute rather than constitutional amendment, and it seems that the office was intended as an adjunct to the District Court’s exercise of supervisory jurisdiction over the Commissioners Court. Initially, the Auditor was jointly appointed by the County Judge and District Judges. The Legislature subsequently amended the statute to provide for the appointment of the County Auditor by only the District Judges. In practice, the County Auditor is the most centralized and strategic concentration of power within the entire structure of county government. The Auditor is the county’s chief financial officer and functions to provide a system of financial checks and balances within county government, and to ensure that the County meets its fiduciary responsibilities to taxpayers by strictly enforcing the statutes governing county finances. By statute, the County Auditor reports to the state District Judges allowing for an independent review of county financial operations, separate from the Commissioners Court. The County Auditor prescribes the accounting system used in collecting and reporting taxes, fees, fines, and other county money, and performs financial audits of the various departments which handle county funds. The Auditor’s office is also responsible for general auditing and control of finances and for revenue estimation and certification as well as for preparing payroll, setting up direct deposits, and making the mandatory and optional deductions from employee paychecks. The Auditor must counter-sign all warrants or checks and thus controls disbursements. While the Commissioners Court is not required to pay a claim which has been approved by the Auditor, they are absolutely without power to pay one which has been disallowed by the Auditor. An officer who refuses to comply with a request for information by the Auditor may be convicted of a misdemeanor and removed from office. Unlike either the County Judge or the Commissioners Court, the County Auditor may request an Attorney General’s opinion, and utilize that opinion to compel other county officials to comply with the determinations of the Auditor.
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