Grand Jury Foreman Notifies Supervisors of Merging Offices [Part Two]
...it is public record and not confidential. A number of counties have combined the functions of Auditor/Controller & Treasures/Tax Collector under a single Director of Finance in recent years. They report improved efficiencies, better service, increased cross-training and promotion opportunities for staff. Combining the jobs of the two top finance officers under a single Chief Financial Officer or Director of Finance can produce significant savings of taxpayer money. The Charter Review Committee should research information from other counties that have made the change.
The Grand Jury found that the current structure has resulted in some significant inter-departmental conflicts and employee moral issues due to the total independence of elected officials. The Charter Review committee need only look at the experience of other counties to determine if this change is warranted from a practical perspective. Historically, many but not all counties in California have had elected offices of Auditor, Controller, Treasurer and Tax Collector. The notable exceptions have included Los Angeles and San Francisco, whose county charters establish one or both of these offices as appointed. Today, county auditors serve ex officio as county controllers. Over time, almost all California counties have consolidated the Treasurer-Tax Collector offices, including El Dorado. California law has been modified to allow counties to consolidate Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector into a single office, Director of Finance. At least thirteen counties have or are in the process of consolidating those offices: Alpine, Fresno, Glenn, Kings, Mono, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Tulare and Yolo. The Charter Review committee should seriously consider contacting these counties to determine their individual reasons and processes in making these changes. You may find they have experienced increased efficiency, better inter-departmental communication, improved employee morale and performance and reduction of costs.
California Government Code § 26980 provides that, with approval of the voters, any county may establish the office of a Director of Finance that can be either elected by the public or appointed by the Board of Supervisors based on the measure approved by the electorate. The Code further requires that if such a position is established, it shall "...be consolidated with the offices of auditor, controller, tax collector, and treasurer and the director of finance shall have all the powers and duties as the board of supervisors may provide." The Government Code also requires an annual independent audit of the office of Director of Finance.
The offices of Auditor-Controller, Treasurer-Tax Collector and Director of Finance are subject to minimum requirements under the California Government Code. The Director of Finance must meet the requirements of one of the first two offices and, generally, be one of the following: (a) an authorized Certified Public Accountant or public accountant, or (b) have a bachelor's degree in accounting and five years experience in senior fiscal management, or (c) be certified by the Institute of Internal Auditors as a professional internal auditor and have at least 16 college semester units in accounting, auditing or finance, or (d) served as a county auditor, chief deputy county auditor or chief assistant county auditor for no less than three years. However, frequently missing in the qualifications is strong executive management education and experience. The position needs to be more than just a "bean counter". A qualified candidate should also have a proven management record as well the financial qualifications. Some of the counties making the change have elevated their qualifications to include an MBA/Accounting — Finance in addition to a minimum level of experience managing large departments and staffs. The ideal candidate would be a person with demonstrated technical skills and a history of leadership in managing a large modern department.
A change is clearly warranted in El Dorado County. The old adage "Where there is smoke....." certainly fits the current county toxic operational and moral climate. No matter how much denial there is from certain elected officials that a problem doesn't exist, there is way too much "smoke" to believe otherwise. The Charter Review Committee has a good opportunity to evaluate and recommend a county charter change that could improve county operations as well as reduce costs. Recommendations can be based on the findings of the Grand Jury as well as your own review and the clear examples of other California counties. Please consider contacting the other California counties and take into account what the Grand Jury report actually says (vs. biased misrepresentations) before making your final recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
Sincerely, Neil P. Cunningham 2013-2014 Grand Jury Foreman, El Dorado County.
A public document received by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on July 7, 2014 from the Grand Jury Foreman, Neil Cunningham. --
Date: July 7, 2014
El Dorado County 2014 Charter Review Committee do Jim Mitrisin, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors 330 Fair Lane, building "A" Placerville, CA 95667
Re: Charter change is warranted
[Click here for Part One: http://www.inedc.com/1-9199 ]