CORTLAND COUNTY Choice between an Elected Treasurer and an Appointed Comptroller
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History of the Treasurer’s Office County Law, Article 13, Section 550: The County Treasurer shall perform the duties prescribed by law as the Chief Fiscal Officer of the County. Such County Treasurer shall perform such additional and related duties as may be prescribed by law and directed by the board of supervisors.
History of the Treasurer’s Office Section XXIX of the 1777 NYS Constitution states that the earliest County Treasurers were appointed -- they remained appointed until the 1821 New York State Constitutional Convention, along with Co. Clerks, Sheriffs and Surrogates, who were then elected. In 1852, the total Cortland County budget was $20,000. In 2004, the total Cortland County budget is approximately $70 million.
Duties of the treasurer or comptroller: • reports the current financial position of the county to the county legislature so they can make informed decisions on county issues and budget planning • responsible for investing county funds wisely • responsible for borrowing on behalf of the county • managerial responsibility for the staff, 4.5 full time positions • oversight of sales tax distribution to other municipalities in the county • accounts for $70 million in revenue and expenses annually • responsible for reconciliation of books • responsible for asset management • file reports with the State Comptroller’s Office • collect delinquent property taxes • oversees county payroll • administration duties, such as tax services and certificates of residency
Duties of the Treasurer CHAPTER ELEVEN OF THE CONSOLIDATED LAWS ARTICLE 13 -COUNTY TREASURER County Law § 550. County treasurer; duties. 1. The county treasurer shall perform the duties prescribed by law as the chief fiscal officer of the county. Such county treasurer shall perform such additional and related duties as may be prescribed by law and directed by the board of supervisors. 2. The county treasurer shall receive and be the custodian of all money belonging to the county or in which the county has an interest and shall keep a true account of all receipts and the expenditures in books provided by him at the expense of the county. 3. On or before the first day of March in each year the county treasurer shall furnish a statement of and pay over to the state comptroller all penalties or moneys belonging to the state. Any state tax levied as part of the county tax shall be paid to the state comptroller on or before the fifteenth day of May in each year. The county treasurer, the county and the surety or sureties on the official undertaking of such county treasurer shall be liable to the state for all moneys collected and belonging to the state and for any state tax levied as a part of the county tax together with interest not exceeding ten per centum per annum, to reimburse the state for any borrowing occasioned by any failure to pay the same to the state. 4. On or before the tenth day of January in each year, the county treasurer shall transmit to the town clerk of each town within his county a statement of all moneys paid by said county treasurer to the supervisor of the town during the preceding year. 5. The county treasurer shall disburse all moneys received from the fish and wildlife service of the United States department of the interior pursuant to section seven hundred fifteen-s of the migratory bird conservation act on a proportional basis to those units of local government, including, but not limited to school districts and the county itself in appropriate cases, which have incurred the loss or reduction of real property tax revenues by reason of the existence of such areas. Where such moneys are to be paid to the supervisors of towns, in a case where any such wildlife refuge lands are located wholly within the boundaries of an incorporated village, such moneys shall be paid to the board of trustees of such village. Such moneys shall be used exclusively for town or village highway purposes, as the case may be. Where such moneys are paid to treasurers or other fiscal officers of a school district, such moneys shall be used exclusively for public school purposes. Upon request, a district superintendent of schools shall furnish to the county treasurer such data as he may require to effectuate the disbursement of moneys under this subdivision. 6. The board of supervisors may, by resolution, determine to enter into a contract to provide for the deposit of the periodic payroll of the county in a bank or trust company for disbursal by it in accordance with the provisions of section ninety-six-b of the banking law.
Duties of the Comptroller CHAPTER ELEVEN OF THE CONSOLIDATED LAWS ARTICLE 14 COUNTY COMPTROLLER §577. County Comptroller Powers and duties. 1. The county comptroller shall: (a) have general superintendence over the fiscal affairs of the county; (b) audit all claims, accounts and demands that are lawful county charges with the same effect as if audited and directed to be paid by the board of supervisors; (c) keep books and records at the expense of the county showing all appropriations, funds and expenditures together with the name of the claimant and the amounts and nature thereof; (d) keep and preserve all claims, accounts and demands, number them consecutively and endorse thereon their allowance or disallowance in whole or in part; (e) keep a separate account with each county officer or department and special funds; (f) keep and preserve all contracts for the furnishing of heat, light, telephone, supplies or other services; (g) keep a record of all bonded indebtedness and other loans and conduct the sale of all bonds pursuant to the provisions of the local finance law; (h) procure bank statements from depositaries of county funds at least once a month and reconcile them with his books and that of the county treasurer; (i) subject to the provisions of the civil service law, certify the correctness of payrolls for the payment of salaries of officers and employees paid from county funds and deliver a certified transcript to the county treasurer as authorization for payment; provided that if the board of supervisors enters into a contract pursuant to subdivision six of section five hundred fifty of this chapter such certified transcript shall be delivered to the appropriate bank or trust company; (j) at least once a year review all books and records, vouchers and other papers pertaining to the money, funds and property of the county and render a report thereon to the board of supervisors as to whether proper books and records have been kept and all moneys and property of the county accounted for; (k) cause to be printed within thirty days after the close of the fiscal year for distribution to the board of supervisors, county officers and the public, a verified statement in summary form showing the receipts of money from all sources, the expenditures and balances by funds, and bonded indebtedness together with the terms of payment and the balance unpaid and such other information as may be deemed proper or directed by the board of supervisors; (1) in the county of Nassau, examine and audit on his own motion or when directed to do so by resolution of the board of supervisors all accounts, contracts, books and records of the Nassau county industrial development agency as established by section nine hundred twenty-two of the general municipal law, and all bank statements from depositaries of such agency funds; (m) perform such additional and related duties as may be prescribed by law or directed by the board of supervisors. 2. The first elected county comptroller shall have power to employ at the expense of the county and as authorized by the board of supervisors such expert accountants as may be necessary to install a financial system for the county. 3. All warrants directed to the county treasurer for payment shall state the fund upon which it is chargeable. No fund shall be overdrawn nor shall any claim be charged to any other fund. 4. All vouchers shall be verified or certified as required by section three hundred sixty-nine of this chapter and approved by the county officer or head of the department incurring same. 5. He may require any county officer or head of a department to furnish an inventory of supplies and equipment on hand and any necessary purchases contracted for or contemplated.
Qualifications of an elected treasurer: • US Citizen • 18 years of age • Resident of Cortland County • Elected by the people
Qualifications of an appointed Comptroller: • Minimum civil service qualifications which • were drafted after review of qualifications used by other counties which • include a combination of municipal accounting experience and accreditation
Qualifications of an appointed Comptroller: A. At the time of appointment, the County Comptroller shall have the following training and/or experience: (1). Graduation from a regionally accredited college or university, or one accredited by the New York State Board of Regents to grant degrees, with a Master’s Degree in Accounting, Public Administration or Business Administration or a related field, which must have included or been supplemented by at least twelve credits in accounting AND four (4) years of paid full-time supervisory experience in preparing and maintaining financial accounts and records, which must have involved preparation of financial statements as well as other accounting activities, two (2) years of which shall be in governmental accounting; OR (2). Graduation from a regionally accredited college or university, or one accredited by the New York State Board of Regents to grant degrees, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, Public Administration or Business Administration or a related field which, must have included or been supplemented by at least twelve credits in accounting AND six (6) years of paid full-time supervisory experience in preparing and maintaining financial accounts and records, which must have involved preparation of financial statements as well as other accounting activities, two (2) years of which shall be in governmental accounting; OR (3). Graduation from a regionally accredited college or university, or one accredited by the New York State Board of Regents to grant two year degrees, with an Associate’s Degree in Accounting, Public Administration or Business Administration or a related field which, must have included or been supplemented by at least twelve credits in accounting AND eight (8) years of paid full-time supervisory experience in preparing and maintaining financial accounts and records, which must have involved preparation of financial statements as well as other accounting activities, two (2) years of which shall be in governmental accounting; OR (4). Ten (10) years of paid full-time supervisory experience in preparing and maintaining financial accounts and records, which must have involved preparation of financial statements as well as other accounting activities, two (2) years of which shall be in governmental accounting; OR (5). An equivalent combination of training and experience as defined by the limits of 1, 2, 3 and 4 above. The County Comptroller shall be appointed on the basis of these and such other qualifications as may be required for the responsibilities of the Office. B. The appointee’s domicile need not be in Cortland County at the time of appointment but shall become so within ninety (90) days of the appointment and remain so during his or her term of office. Failure to be domiciled or to remain so in Cortland County as stated herein shall be cause for dismissal by the Cortland County Legislature without other or further notice.
Governance Evaluation Committee: Committee was created to: • evaluate the structure of county government • evaluate pros and cons of elected vs. appointed county officials for several key positions • educate the public so they can make an informed decision on these issues
Governance Evaluation Committee Recommendation: The GEC has recommended to the Cortland County Legislature that a referendum be placed on this November’s ballot to allow the public the opportunity to vote to replace the position of County Treasurer with an appointed County Comptroller.
Why are we considering a change? • Growing fiscal complexity in county government (i.e. mandates, numerous state and/or federal programs, etc.) • The county must adhere to GASB governmental accounting standards • Better financial reporting would lead to better fiscal decisions by the legislature
Why are we considering a change? • Effective fiscal management • The Legislature must know how much money is available when planning the budget. • Benchmark reporting (year-to-date relative to previous years) • Expectations for financial reporting have increased over time by the County Legislature
Why are we considering a change? • Professional qualifications and professional background required of a chief fiscal officer • Ability to appoint the County’s chief fiscal officer, having the professional qualifications, education and experience necessary for the position
Why are we considering a change? • The State Comptrollers report has clearly stated problems in the Treasurer’s office: • An overall lack of managerial skills on the part of the current treasurer is the primary concern as indicated by: • lack of direction and oversight for staff in the treasurer’s office • failure to accurately and promptly balance the books (reconciliations) • failure to provide timely and accurate information to the legislature
Advantages of an Elected Treasurer: • Provides voters an additional layer of accountability in county government • People get to choose • Gives voters a stake in the financial affairs of the county
Advantages of an Appointed Comptroller: • Candidate must have minimum qualifications • Accountability – clearly defined job description and yearly performance evaluations • Qualified professional vs. politically popular • Continuity of office holder by reason of contract and working knowledge • Larger pool of candidates could be fielded