County Treasurer David Barnes notified the Curry County Board of Commissioners he intends to hire a part-time deputy treasurer to support him.
Since former treasurer Debbie Crumley retired last year, the position — typically an elected role — has been a revolving door. Barnes was appointed in January when previously appointed Douglas Baker stepped down after just two weeks at the job. Before that, Terry Hanscam — who was actually elected as treasurer last November — resigned before he took the seat.
At a Wednesday Curry County Board of Commissioners meeting, Barnes notified the board he was considering hiring a deputy treasurer, whom he would split time with. Moreover, he said he never wanted the position in the first place but took it because he saw there was an immediate need.
“I ended up with the job by default, essentially...my sense of civic obligation and responsibility made me stand up and offer my services to the county,” said Barnes. “I’ve found out over the past three months this is a pretty intense job, there’s a lot to it.
Barnes said he intends to add the hiring of a deputy treasurer to next year’s budget. He said he hopes to find a candidate among existing county employees. Under his proposal, he and another employee would each work 20 hours per week at $20 an hour.
John Herzog, the vice-chair of the board of commissioners, asked if Barnes could hold out until the treasurer position goes on the ballot again in November 2022. Barnes said he could not.
“I’ve had a heart attack, I’ve had part of my stomach removed. I spent 12 years on disability, which I left to come take this job. You need somebody else who knows how to do this in case someday I don’t,” said Barnes.
Court Boice, chair of the board, said he would support the idea of bringing on a part-time deputy, but he was worried whether the county could afford it. He said the board should consider restructuring the treasurer role to reduce some of the workload.
Boice pointed to a model in Jefferson County where a six-member board, which includes the board of commissioners, make all finance decisions for the county.
However, Barnes was concerned the independence of the treasurer’s office would be reduced in that type of model. He said one of his primary concerns is to maintain a segregation of duties to prevent corruption.
“You cannot have the person that brings in the money, be the person that counts the money and the person that spends the money...the treasurer’s office needs to maintain its independence and stand alone from everyone else,” said Barnes.
There was confusion over whether Barnes could hire a deputy without the board’s approval. Barnes said if the board approves the budget with the new deputy, the treasurer would not require further authorization from the board. Boice said he was not so sure, but he deferred to Barnes’ judgement until he could research the issue.