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6 Investigates: Corpus Christi city auditor remains uncertified

Posted at 6:25 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 19:25:15-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It will be three years, on April 10, that Kimberly Houston has been serving as interim auditor for the City of Corpus Christi.

"Interim" because according to a city ordinance, she can't have the permanent job until she passes a certification test. And she hasn't passed.

Houston was promoted April 10, 2018 -- and was given a year to pass the three-part certification test. When she failed the first time, the city council gave her an extension, accepting the explanation that she was busy trying to reorganize the department and hire new people.

"I care about what I do," Houston told KRIS 6 News in January 2020. "I really have become a member of the community, and I'm invested in the success of the city."

As KRIS 6 Investigates reported, two extensions and two more failures followed Houston's promotion. Now, the latest deadline, March 1, has come and gone. One extension was granted because the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the testing process.

City Manager Peter Zanoni says it's part III of the test that she keeps failing. That part deals with financial and managerial accounting and information technology.

"Kim's goal in every audit is to help us improve as an organization," Zanoni said. "As a city manager, my experience with her for the past 23 months has been nothing but professional and positive. She's doing a great job for the taxpayer and for the city organization."

But, Zanoni doesn't get a vote. Four city council members on the audit committee will make a recommendation. Then, the full council will decide her fate.

Mayor Paulette Guajardo is among the decision makers. She isn't opposed to tweaking the ordinance.

"Not get rid of the ordinance, but possibly adjust the ordinance," Guajardo said. "But again, you know, the council members that are on the audit committee, my expectation is that they are going to discuss this thoroughly and absolutely keep that as an option."

KRIS 6 News took a telephone poll of the remaining city council members to see what they thought of Houston's work and potential solutions. Many cities don't have that certification requirement.

The new council members were unfamiliar with her work, but the others had nothing but good things to say. As for dumping the certification requirement, there wasn't much enthusiasm. Most said they're just hoping she'll pass the test next time.