Who Is Your County Treasurer?
County treasurers in all of Ohio's 88 counties have traditionally served as the local tax collector. However, tighter budgets and increasing demands at the local level have changed the face of the position of County Treasurer and increased expectations for this important occupation.
Today's Treasurer serves as the County's Chief Investment Officer, the Administrator of sophisticated delinquent tax collection programs and the keeper of property tax escrow accounts. As a result, those that hold this position must be individuals who are highly trained in investment, cash management and financial planning strategies to properly manage and safeguard local funds.
Increasing Responsibilities, Greater Challenges
As local budgets have grown tighter and school districts face mounting financial challenges, the responsibilities of County Treasurers have multiplied. County Treasurers face growing pressures from local districts to expedite the tax collection process and increase efforts to collect on delinquent taxes. In essence, the faster the Treasurer collects and accounts for revenue, the faster the districts receive the funds.
In addition, in many counties the dollars earned from the investments are a major source of revenue for the County General Fund. County Treasurers in the smallest counties are responsible for investment porfolios in the $3 to 5 million range, and more than $300 million in the largest counties. This represents an increase of 100 to 500 percent over portfolio sizes just 10 years age. As a result, County Treasurers are continually balancing the security of investments with pressures from County Commissioners and School Board Members to maximize the return on the investments.
Comparison figures of Brown (small county), Wood (medium county), Lake (medium county), Cuyahoga (large county):
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In 1996, the Ohio General Assembly raised the levels of accountability and qualifications for County Treasurers. Senate Bill 81 increased exponentially the mandatory financial reporting, as well as quarterly and yearly reports of all transactions and investment activities.
In addition, the legislation requires mandatory continuing education courses for all County Treasurers, including 26 hours to be completed by a new Treasurer upon taking office and 13 hours each year following. These standards are similar to continuing education requirements for professional groups such as attorneys and accountants. Ohio is one of only a handful of states that require this level of continuing education for its County Treasurers.
The future promises to present local governments and school districts with even greater budget challenges. Therefore, it is critical that Ohio be able to recruit the top candidates for County Treasurer positions. In addition, Ohio must recognize the considerable responsibilities and increasing expectations that present County Treasurers in all 88 counties face each day.
Counties must be able to offer salaries that are competitive with similar positions in both the public and private sector to encourage accountable, highly skilled financial experts to consider being candidates for County Treasurer positions statewide. Treasurers are the individuals Ohioans entrust to invest and manage local funds. Only the most experienced and qualified individuals can meet the upcoming challenges facing tomorrow's County Treasurers.