(WBIR-Knoxville) The Knox County Audit Committee on Tuesday in a 4-0 vote recommended to the Knox County Commission that the county should hire a new internal auditor and not outsource the position to a private company.
The move comes a couple of weeks after officials offered former auditor Richard Walls a severance package that included about $31,000 and medical coverage for 18 months. Walls's last day on the job was Sept. 3.
The commission is expected to talk more about the audit committee's recommendation later this month. Officials then are expected to advertise the job posting. From there, the county's human resources department will select three candidates who will interview before the audit committee.
The county commission will make the final decision.
Officials during Tuesday's meeting talked briefly about the position, but said they still want to collect more data.
For now, though, officials said they would like someone who has at least six years of experience, a college degree, and "appropriate certification."
Additionally, Commissioner Amy Broyles, a committee member, said officials will "still need to talk about what expectations we want in place and whether they staff the office to meet those expectations."
The internal audit department, which reports directly to the County Commission, operates on $257,000 a year and has three employees, although it's short-staffed by one since Walls stepped down.
Commission Chairman Brad Anders said the two employees will keep their jobs, and help run the office. Anders added that he also wants officials to annually review the new internal auditor, something that wasn't done with Walls.
"I want a more clear path for the incoming auditor, so we don't get where we are today," he said.
Audit Committee Chairman Joe Carcello also suggested that the county increase the pay for the position. Walls earned $92,700 annually.
The Audit Committee, in a 4-1 vote, on July 9 initially recommended firing Walls. Only Mary Kiser, who resigned in the wake of the decision, dissented.
Committee members called Wall's work "limited" and said he only conducted three audits last year.
Kiser, though, said the accusations were unfair and that Walls was never given a chance to defend himself. She also pointed out that his last review came in 2009, so the panel held some culpability, since it didn't provide him better feedback.
Last month, the County Commission opted not to fire Walls and instead offer him a buy-out package, so long as he didn't seek legal action against the county.