Murang'a Governor Irungu Kang'ata’s administration will start auditing employees and pending bills on Monday in efforts to streamline recurrent expenditure.
The two tasks will run concurrently to ascertain levels of integrity in the Sh2 billion bills his predecessor Mwangi wa Iria left behind and the payroll that consumes 45 percent of annual revenues.
County records show that it owes Sh1.6 billion to suppliers and has Sh200 million in unsettled legal bills.
"We will call out all those who have debited us as suppliers. We will request them to present to us their local purchasing orders and certificate of compliance,” Governor Kang’ata said.
“Those [who] pass the vetting will be paid. Those to fail will be given more time to go and get evidence of work done."
He said the payment schedule and budget for pending bills are important because "they are cited as a must inclusion for the National Treasury to disburse equitable share” cash.
The county is also said to be paying more than 4,000 workers, 2,800 them in the health sector.
The goal of the audit, he said, is not to seek to sack workers "but we want to know how many we have per designation, competencies and ideality".
Only after the county gathers the data will officials know how to use the diversity of competencies to achieve service delivery goals.
He said there is low morale among workers and they lack a clear communication channel for airing their grievances.
"I want to assure our workers that the auditing exercise will not be malice-driven. We know that all those relying on our payroll have families,” he said.
“What we need is to build a database that evaluates all the competencies we have to guide us on task allocations."
He added that adjustments will be made in departments found to be overstaffed or understaffed.
"We might even find that we have a shortage ... We will look at salaries or wages paid. We have to professionalise the way we do things,” Dr Kang’ata said.
“We will then put that data on a digital platform to beat the threat of paying ghost workers, haphazard [employment] and stealing through paying illegal allowances."
To escape the perennial problem of salary arrears, Dr Kang'ata said he will seek permission from the county assembly to strike partnerships with financial institutions on the payroll.
Banks "will be paying out salaries even when we have not received money from the National Treasury. We will partner with those institutions that will not be charging us any interest," he said.
Salary arrears, he argued, resulted from the county failing to prioritise workers and the executive diverting the salary vote head to other uses.
"We also have been having the challenge of delayed exchequer release of funds,” he said.
He said he wants to streamline county departments for efficiency.
"We will digitise all of our departments and their services. We want to eradicate the culture of kickbacks that has seen procurement corrupted,” he said.
“We will rely more on government-to-government procurement since we must save our resources and use them prudently."
Mr Wa Iria has said that "some of the things you people are attributing to my rule sound not to be from Kenya ... they are satanic and demonic".
The county expects to receive Sh7 billion from the National Treasury and raise Sh1 billion from local sources and conditional grants. The proposed 2022/23 budget is Sh9.3 billion, with a deficit of Sh1.3 billion and zero shillings for development.