Tuesday, July 21, 2020, beginning at 9:00 am, the Napa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) meets, and with item 10C, will discuss eliminating elected Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller positions, consolidating the offices, and appointing a director.
What Do These Officials Do?
The Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller ensure accurate and ethical taxation, investment, and distribution of County funds to places like schools, the Library, Health and Human Services, pension funds, county agencies, special districts, and cities. At this time, the public controls who represents their interests in the offices of Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller through elections.
Current Elected Officials
Tracy Schulze is our Auditor Controller, and Bob Minahen is our Treasurer-Tax collector. They have reputations for being responsive to public critique and quick to meet requests for information. For 14 years running, they have received certificates of excellence for their comprehensive annual financial reports that offer transparency and full disclosure. They are exemplary public servants.
What Might Happen with Such a Change?
Converting two elected positions to one appointed position removes checks and balances, giving ultimate control of finance management to the BOS. An appointee would be chosen, and could be replaced by the BOS at any time, for any reason.
The potential downside of such an appointee is that it could place an employee in the uncomfortable, and untenable, position of choosing to illuminate problems, or lose their job.
In contrast, elected officials are responsible to the public and free to call out ethics problems with no threat to their employment. With such large funds at stake, the elected model serves as a protector of the public trust.
How It Happens
In order to change the role(s) from elected to appointed, the BOS must place an initiative on the ballot for a vote of the people. The BOS will discuss whether to move forward with a ballot initiative on Tuesday, July 21. The deadline for getting an initiative onto the November ballot is August 7.
Many contributed to this alert. With thanks especially to Amber Manfree, Eve Kahn, Gary Margadant.
Comments and Concerns? What You Can Do Today:
1. Submit written comments for the 7/21 meeting to this email
2. Dial in to the 7/21 meeting remotely and comment verbally. The Board of Supervisors Public Comment Line is: (707)-299-1776.
3. Circulate this information and call to action within your networks
4. Call your supervisor, and encourage others to do the same. General phone number: 707-253-4386
Detailed instructions for joining the meeting virtually can be found here on the agenda, page two.
Key Points to Consider
-Converting elected positions to appointed positions disenfranchises the public
-Making this an appointed position removes checks and balances, increasing potential for ethics violations
-Not enough time has been allowed for public to respond
-Affected entities (managers of special districts, cities, etc.) who rely on the integrity of these officials have not been consulted
-Should the board take this to a vote, the cost savings are minimal, are outweighed by risks, and would not take effect until 2023
-There is nothing wrong with the current system and no public pressure to make this change
-Current officials are responsive to public requests for records and changes to operations
And what happened?
We the People prevailed! Read :”Proposal to abolish 2 elected Napa County positions sparks outrage” here.
Listen to the BOS meeting here.