Palo Alto is embarking on a search for a new city auditor after Kyle O'Rourke, who has been serving in that role for the past two years, resigned from his role at the consulting firm Baker Tilly.
The resignation, which the city learned about on Wednesday night, leaves Palo Alto without an auditor, which is one of four City Hall positions that is appointed directly by the City Council. In September 2020, the council moved to eliminate all of the positions in the city auditor's office and outsource auditing services to an outside firm. The council also approved a contract with Baker Tilly, whose Palo Alto team was led by O'Rourke, a senior consulting manager.
The firm has since delved into some of the city's most complex project and processes, including energy contracts, permitting operations and management of nonprofit agreements. O'Rourke and his team were also charged with monitoring the contracts associated with city's largely construction project, the new public safety building at 350 Sherman Ave.
With Baker Tilly's contract set to expire in June, the council voted in May to extend the contract for another three years at a cost of $708,750 per year.
Vicki Hellenbrand, managing partner for public sector at Baker Tilly US, informed the city about O'Rourke's departure in an Aug. 17 letter. She wrote that O'Rourke had resigned on Aug. 15.
"We are prepared to provide the City ongoing assistance in fulfilling the City Auditor functions, including, but not limited to, assisting in identifying a successor City Auditor," Hellenbrand wrote.
The council plans to discuss its next steps for finding a new city auditor on Monday. The city's agreement with Baker Tilly allows the city to terminate its contract within 10 days after written notice. It also requires the firm to designate a temporary replacement for 90 days if the office becomes vacant without sufficient time for the council to appoint a replacement, according to a report from the Office of City Clerk.
Under the City Charter, a city auditor is required to "ensure that the city departments and officers responsible for accounting and financial management activities comply with statutory requirements and accounting standards." The auditor is also required to conduct internal audits of fiscal transactions, verify accounts and expenditures and provide analyses of financial and operating data as directed by the council.
It is one of four council-appointed officer positions in Palo Alto, along with city manager, city attorney and city clerk.