A woman hired as Gresham’s auditor has left for a job in San Diego, leaving the position’s future up in the air.

Julie Nieminski in May began her new job as chief of audits for the San Diego County Auditor and Controller Office after almost five years with the city of Gresham.

In December 2007, she replaced the city’s first auditor, who was hired in 2005, after the majority of Gresham voters approved a charter amendment to create the new position to watch over city finances.

The position was added to just two positions that the city council oversees — City Manager and City Attorney. This was significant because it gave the auditor the independence needed to poke into city departments and get the kind of data needed for internal audits.

But last summer, while researching an upcoming charter review, City Attorney David Ris discovered an error in the election’s interpretation. Although 54 percent of voters approved the charter change during the November 2004 election, a super majority of 60 percent is needed to pass charter amendments.

City Manager Erik Kvarsten changed the position to a chief compliance officer with duties similar to the city auditor. But instead of reporting to the city council, the position reported to the city manager, making the position less independent.

Kvarsten has not filled the now-empty position. While the compliance officer’s duties “remain important functions,” Kvarsten said he is still determining how to proceed. Options range from having current staff take on the duties or passing them on to outside auditors the city already hires.

Go to top