By: Karen D Adams, CPA, Merced County Treasurer-Tax Collector
Anonymous letter received by YubaNet on May 23.
Editor's Note: This open letter to the Nevada County BOS addresses an issue that is tentatively scheduled to be on the BOS' agenda on June 26, 2012. The supervisors, prompted by outside interests, decided to look at possible consolidation of 4 elected positions.
Combining the offices of Treasurer-Tax-Collector with the Auditor-Controller and combining the Recorder/Registrar of Voters with the Assessor. On May 23rd, YubaNet and other community members received an anonymous letter calling for a campaign to combine the offices. The sender(s) of the letter were not willing to sign their name(s), give any kind of contact information or at least a return address.
Also, they listed the County CEO as one of the officials to contact. The County CEO serves at the pleasure of the BOS and is not the "sixth Supervisor." The letter calls for merging the offices of Treasurer/Tax-Collector and Auditor-Controller.
These two elected officials perform different but dependent functions. One collects and invests taxes, the other audits all departments, including the tax collection and investments. Theoretically, if the offices are merged, whoever is the person in charge will collect, invest and sign off on the accuracy and legality of the transactions.
While it is true that outside auditors also sign off on the county's procedures, the savings depicted in the anonymous screed are misleading, to say the least. Additional section managers would need to be hired, more outside auditors brought in and other safeguards would have to be installed. Cost unknown.
June 20, 2012 - Honorable Nevada County Board of Supervisor Members:
As the Merced County Treasurer-Tax Collector, I request that you do not approve the consolidation of Treasurer-Tax Collector with Auditor-Controller. I testified at the California Senate Local Government Committee Hearing "Prudence and Economy: Rethinking State Limits on County Offices" on March 17, 2010 and was published in their committee report opposing incompatible consolidations of offices.
The Committee's White Paper also cites the "Incompatibility" doctrine that exists when there is a "Clash in Duties". It is unreasonable to suggest that any consolidation where the 1st party who provides "oversight" on the 2nd party can effectively continue to provide impartial value after the consolidation causes both previous parties to become one. These consolidations are not in the best interest of the taxpayers and have not been approved by the citizens through elections.
For a successful election to be held, the citizens should be made aware of the potential asset risk. A current example of potential loss due to lack of oversight was published in the July 2012 issue of Budget & Tax News. The article title "FBI Says Dixon Official Stole $53 Mil." reported the comptroller's ability to embezzle over a period of 6 years.
While I am genuinely sympathetic about Nevada County's budgetary constraints, I cannot support your consideration. I personally have experienced a consolidation which was not in the best interest of the Merced taxpayers. Initially the proposed consolidation was for Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller, but I successfully provided evidence convincing the Board not to approve the incompatible "clash of duties" consolidation. Eventually a consolidation of other offices under Treasurer-Tax Collector was approved without my support. The consolidation was not approved by the voters. Even though the clash of duties did not exist in my consolidation, there was a lack of adequate appropriations necessary to provide true efficiencies, oversight and management.
It was my intention to speak personally before you on June 26th, but I have Merced County commitments that prevent me from appearing. I request Ms. Tina Vernon, Nevada County Treasurer-Tax Collector, to speak on my behalf stating my concerns and to read the statement I delivered to the Senate Committee during the hearing. Please review the attached that was also provided to the Senate Local Government Committee.
Karen D. Adams
Help us bring you more news. Be a real reader:
By submitting a comment you consent to our rules. You must use your real first and last name, not a nickname or alias. A comment here is just like a letter to the editor or a post on Facebook. Thank you.