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State Auditor finishes 'performance audit' of state fees

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From a driver's license to a clam dealer's permit.

Those are some of the hundreds of fees on the books in North Dakota state government.

And the state Auditor’s Office has just completed a performance audit of those fees.

The study had been suggested by Mandan Senator Dwight Cook, who chaired the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee. State Auditor Josh Gallion said once he heard about the study, he was all for it.

"We focus a lot on the expenditure side," Gallion said in an interview. "To me, that's only one-half of the coin."

Gallion said you can't spend money, unless you collect money.

"When I started to ask questions about where all these fees are at, and who has that information, nobody had it," Gallion said.

"To me, any time we can directly connect revenues with expenditures, that is a lot more transparent," Gallion said. "We can better explain to the public why we need to collect these fees, or these taxes exist."

Gallion said this audit took a lot of time.

"2,022 1/2 audit hours," Gallion said.

Gallion said he plans to have a listing of the fees posted to the Auditor’s Website.

"You'll be able to sort it, so if you want to see by agency, you can sort it alphabetical order," Gallion said. "If you want to see which ones are paid by the public, instead of agency to agency, you can filter those."

Gallion said he hopes the Legislature will take a real look at those fees, and decide whether the level of government that's in place to collect those fees is necessary.

"If we have these fees out there, and we require dozens of FTEs to manage them, and we're only collecting a few thousand bucks a year, why?" Gallion said.

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