As Curry County’s Tax Collector/Treasurer for the past eight years, I must speak out on the recent changes to my departments by the Board of Commissioners (BOC). Although the Tax Collector is an appointed, not elected position, it has been a function that the Curry County Treasurer has also performed. These offices have worked together smoothly and efficiently all these years.
On the early morning of April 25th, the Tax Collection office’s contents and personnel were taken across the street to the Assessor’s office in the Courthouse. Neither my staff nor I were prepared for it. I had to ask for the board order as the contents of the tax office were being removed. The order to finalize the details of that move was passed by the BOC April 27th, two days after the move was done
This “county reorganization” of taking the Tax Collection department from the Treasurer’s and putting it with the Assessor was supposed to be for “cost savings.” The Tax Collection staff did go from 2.25 employees to one. That sounds dramatic, but only a .5 staffer was laid off.
The real story is what it did to the Treasurer’s office.
As Tax Collector/Treasurer, my salary was 75 percent Tax Collector and 25 percent Treasurer. This was to fully utilize the grant money given to the county for the tax collection functions and be less of a draw on general funds. By removing the Tax function from me, that 75 percent must now be all Treasurer, which means no additional grant monies.
That also meant the deputy treasurer position was eliminated. At 1.25 employees, the Treasurer’s Office will be me and a .25 employee, if a person can be hired who is willing and able to be trained for the many complexities of the job for limited pay and hours. And I would not have any part-time employee become the signer on our county’s bank accounts.
The board of commissioners then took the unusual step of laying off my deputy treasurer themselves, with an order stating, “The Chair of the Board of Curry County Commissioners shall provide a lay off notice to the Curry County Deputy Treasurer.”
The Treasurer’s Office has always had a deputy treasurer as backup and support for the very important core function of managing the county’s monies. This person serves to cover the times the Treasurer is not available, is out of town or ill, and provides additional support for the busy times.
Where are the cost savings of moving Tax Collection to the Assessor?
The savings of a .5 employee from Tax was $22,000. The loss of the CAFFA grant monies for 75 percent of my salary is $9660 and possible unemployment costs. Also, because money is now being collected for Tax, the Assessor’s office is being remodeled for safety and security reasons. What are the final costs of this?
But with his staff of eight, the Assessor’s office will continue to function.
The workload in the Treasurer’s Office will increase as our county monies decrease.
With less county monies to cover the fluctuations in cash flow, more time will be spent to maintain the many accounts and to cover the bills with less room for error. My concerns are that with little or no backup for the Treasurer’s Office, the financial functions will suffer.
My department has been “reorganized” to the detriment of many, benefits to a few and with little or no cost savings,
But let me assure you that as your County Treasurer, I will continue to manage the county’s monies prudently and safely, regardless of what the future brings.