Earlier this week, as we reported, city council member and mayoral candidate Tim Burgess announced that he was calling for an audit of the Seattle Department of Transportation's spending, in the wake of news that SDOT was sitting on tens of millions of dollars a year in unspent funds—more than $110 million, for example, in 2011 alone.
Burgess said the city was "los[ing] money" by failing to spend dollars on which it was paying interest, and city budget office director Beth Goldberg told PubliCola the city "recognized there was a problem" with SDOT's spending and "dramatically scaled back the amount of bonds that we issued" back in 2011.
City council member Tom Rasmussen, who heads up the council's transportation committee, tells PubliCola he's fine with Burgess' audit, though he's skeptical that it will turn up evidence of malfeasance by the transportation department.
Noting that underspending by SDOT could actually reflect frugality on the city's part, Rasmussen says:
The way I would look at is, [is SDOT] managing their money properly? I think it's good for them to have an outside review—there's no harm in that. It'll be interesting to see what their response is. It never hurts to have an independent review of something like this, but the question in this case is how in-depth the review needs to be.
Burgess' campaign-season edict prompted eye-rolls at city hall.