Nevada County: Supervisors back off on consolidation of county offices
January 13, 2010
GRASS VALLEY, Calif. and#8212; Nevada County Auditor-Controller Marcia Salter was appointed Tuesday to assume temporary control of the Tax Collector/Treasurer’s office after a proposal to consolidate the two elected positions permanently was voted down by county supervisors.
That move means that the Tax Collector/Treasurer’s post will be on the June primary ballot and that those interested in running for the position may file with the county elections office.
Following the early retirement of longtime Tax Collector/Treasurer Chris Dabis, who resigned at the end of December with a year left on her four-year term, the Board of Supervisors considered a proposal to combine the Auditor/Controller and Tax Collector/Treasurer positions, a move that was supposed to save an estimated $150,000 a year.
Salter has a year left on her term as Auditor/Controller.
She said she plans to seek re-election and Tuesday’s decision means she will have additional duties until a new Tax Collector/Treasurer is elected.
Supervisor Nate Beason said he found very little support for the proposal to consolidate, which originated from Nevada County Executive Officer Rick Haffey and Assistant CEO Laura Matteson, who realized the move could save $150,000 a year by cutting a large executive salary and combining various office staffs for efficiency.
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The board felt the need to protect the integrity of the two offices and the need for and#8220;checks and balancesand#8221; outweighed the potential savings.
Two residents spoke against the proposal. and#8220;It’s an elected position,and#8221; said Wayne Stuhr. and#8220;The people should decide if it is to be combined, not the board.and#8221;
Gene Covert was bothered by the potential loss of a checks and balance system. and#8220;If you follow the recommendation of your appointed chief executive officer, you will indeed be inviting the fox into the chicken house,and#8221; he said.
Yolo County Auditor-Controller Howard Newens went through a similar consolidation in 2006 and told The Union that it is working. Newens said he did have to split duties and rely on internal and external audits to make sure county funds were safe. If not, he said, one person could conceivably create and collect a fake tax bill, or illegally alter someone’s tax assessment.
The board voted unanimously to appoint Salter to the interim position.
Beason voted against the consolidation, joined by Supervisors Ted Owens, Ed Scofield and John Spencer joining him.
Supervisor Hank Weston abstained.
Salter will receive a 15 percent temporary bump in her salary and benefits to fulfill Dabis’ final year. Her compensation package for the year now climbs to $206,000 with a $138,000 salary, according to county Human Resources Director Gayle Satchwell.
After the votes, Salter reiterated her desire to seek re-election in the June primary.
That leaves the Treasurer/Tax Collector’s race wide open for the June primary and no candidate had stepped forward as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the county elections office.
and#8220;We’ll take a look at things and see if we can streamline the process,and#8221; Salter said of running both departments for the next year. and#8220;I don’t want to do a lot that an elected official might have to deal with in the future.and#8221;
Salter said she would rely on the county’s Audit Review Committee as one of the combined interim position’s checks and balances.
Haffey, Salter, Weston and Scofield currently make up the committee. The members could change when new supervisor committee memberships are made for the year, Salter said.
Matteson said the county’s current outside auditing team will also watch the combined interim office closely, and make recommendations to keep checks and balances in place.