The Modesto City Council on Tuesday voted to boot the city's first independent auditor, a man they hired 18 months ago and described as a watchdog who would root out waste at City Hall.
The council voted 7-0 in closed session to terminate Auditor Frank DeMattos' contract with 60 days' notice.
"We appreciate the work Frank has done; however, we have a difference of opinion on the direction the auditor's office needs to take," Mayor Jim Ridenour said after the council met in closed session to discuss DeMattos' contract.
Ridenour said he couldn't comment further on DeMattos' termination. But the mayor hinted at dissatisfaction with DeMattos' work in November, when the council reviewed DeMattos' first year.
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DeMattos was hired in September 2008 as the first auditor who would answer to the council instead of another city employee, such as the clerk or city manager. His position was created after voters passed a package of government reforms called Measure M in February 2008.
Council members picked DeMattos, a Modesto native with tenure in Stockton's audit shop, to fulfill the measure's charge to increase oversight in City Hall.
DeMattos, however, hasn't produced any attention-grabbing audits. In his first year, he focused on hiring new financial auditors and getting his office up and running. He released an audit of the city's payroll practices, calling them "generally adequate."
Council members said in November that DeMattos wasn't meeting their expectations. They wanted audits that examine how city departments function and whether taxpayer money is used wisely, council members said.
The council gave DeMattos verbal and written direction on what they'd like to see him focus on.
DeMattos said Tuesday night that he and the council both wanted to do good for the city, but took different paths to get there. "We weren't on the same wavelength," DeMattos said.
He acknowledged that the council wanted an aggressive auditor but said that "wasn't my style."
DeMattos earns $96,200 a year. He'll receive three months' pay as part of his severance package.