(As taken from the Washington Association of County Officials’s Website)
The duties and responsibilities of the county auditor cover a large and varied field, from recording deeds and other instruments, to serving as the county’s chief ex-officio supervisor of all elections. These duties each require knowledge in many different areas so that the office can be run efficiently and effectively.
The major duties of the auditor have been listed by breaking the office down into its major sections:
Documents recorded by the auditor include, but are not limited to, deeds, real estate contracts, liens and other written instruments which are required by law to be filed in the county. The records become public upon filing and are indexed accordingly. The exact time of filing is recorded with a time stamp so that if several instruments are filed on the same day, it is easy to determine priority of a document when referring back to it. Many requests are handled by the auditor for copies of various instruments. These requests are handled expeditiously with the use of photo equipment. A small fee is charged for search of records and copies of document and, when certified by the auditor, these documents are admissible in courts of law.
The county auditor must audit all bills approved for payment by the board of county commissioners before warrants are issued. It must be confirmed that charges are legitimate and that there are adequate funds to cover the payments in the proper departmental budgets.
Further duties of the auditor in this department include acting as disbursing officer for taxing districts, for example, a fire district. The auditor is required to keep warrant books and maintain payroll records.
The law requires the auditor to examine the county treasurer’s books each month to check for accuracy. As ex-officio supervisor of the Division of Municipal Corporations, the auditor is under direction of the chief supervisor, and is responsible for numerous reports concerning county fiscal affairs which are periodically turned over to the board of county commissioners and the State Auditor. In addition, the auditor is involved with both the preparation and administration of the county budget.
Clerk of the Board
In some counties, the auditor serves as clerk of the board of county commissioners, making a complete record of the proceedings of each meeting held. These records contain resolutions, ordinances, claims approved for payment, decisions on bids, votes on questions submitted to the board and all official action taken by the board. A summary of these proceedings is published quarterly. All actions are indexed for quick reference of individual matters.
Car owners should be aware of the auditor’s capacity as an agent of the Washington State Department of Licensing. This responsibility not only encompasses sale of motor vehicle licenses and collection of license fees and excise tax, but also the transfer of vehicles from one owner to another, title changes to add or delete a legal owner other than the registered owner, collection of load fees on trucks and other transactions involving motor vehicles. The auditor is also an agent for the Department of Revenue and collects sales taxes on transfers of such vehicles made between individuals. In addition, the auditor is responsible for watercraft titling and registration and issues marriage licenses, dog licenses and various miscellaneous business licenses.
In the noncharter counties, the auditor maintains a central accounting system for all of county government. This entails the control and issuance of disbursements, financial accounting and reporting, grant accounting, payroll, and fixed asset inventory. Additionally, some auditors also act as the county budget officer. The internal audit duties may also fall under the direction of the county auditor.
The auditor is the ex-officio supervisor of all primary, general and special elections for all state, county, city/town or school, hospital, fire, cemetery, water, sewer, port, park and recreation, and public utility districts. In correlation with election duties, the auditor is in charge of:
- Providing locations for holding elections
- Appointing precinct election officers and providing their compensation
- Preparing ballots, voting machines or other voting devices
- Seeing to the delivery and recovery of all election supplies
- Publishing and posting notices of elections
- Apportioning to state, city, county, town and district, their share of election expenses
- Publishing a list of polling places and a sample ballot
The county canvassing board for all election returns is comprised of the county auditor, the county prosecuting attorney and the chairman of the county commissioners. The auditor works very closely with the Secretary of State and sends complete abstracts of all election results to the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia.
The auditor, as the supervisor of elections, is the chief registrar of voters within the county. It is the auditor’s responsibility to close voter registration in accordance with state law, prior to each election, and to publish requisite legal notice of such impending closures.
Serves as secretary of the County Finance Committee
Serves as recording officer for City Selection Committee in Air Pollution Authority Districts
Serves as member of Judicial Districting Committee