This week’s meeting of the Barton County Commission has provided much to think about. Listening to the county administrator, ABBB auditors and the county’s software provider elaborate on the reconciliation and record keeping issues in the Treasurer’s Office was nauseating.
As one who has spent the better part of her professional career as a regional or group controller, it was dumbfounding to hear of the incompetence, inadequacies and lack of accountability in the Treasurer’s Office. Where were the checks and balances? Where were the safeguards to ensure that our tax dollars are being used for their intended purpose? What did we do wrong to get us where we are today? And after we spend tens of thousands of dollars to get this mess cleaned up, how do we keep this from happening again?
One option is to model our county structure like that of Johnson County and hire our county treasurer—so at least the position would be based on a resume and experience, not a popularity contest. Realistically though, in the here and now this might be an ideal situation, but what happens when we have a different county administrator or a different county commission? As an employee the treasurer would be subject to the whims of the county commission. Do we really want that?
It’s important to keep the independence of our treasurer, registrar of deeds and especially our county clerk. So let’s keep the election … but how do we make the system work?
Perhaps wanting a county treasurer that is an expert in governmental accounting, one that can reconcile the tax role or balance a checkbook shouldn’t be what we’re looking for — although honestly right now it would help a lot.
We need a county treasurer that is a capable and experienced leader. One that can set policies, create teamwork, hire competent people and make certain the statutory requirements of the office are being met. We need a leader with the aptitude and willingness to learn the workings of the office and be willing to pitch in wherever they are needed. We need a leader that can make the Treasurer’s Office a good place to work and offer exceptional customer service to the public. We need a leader that can restructure the department so that if he/she is pulled out of the picture (due to not being reelected, retirement, extended leave of absence or for some other reason) the office will still function without him/her. We need cross training, verifications and separation of duties. We need checklists, double checks and check offs. We need to be able to trust our Treasurer’s Office. We need more than a really nice guy.
But, for now, the fact remains. The Treasurer’s Office is currently not functioning and is not in compliance with the duties entrusted to it. So the question we as Barton County residents need to ask ourselves is: Do we continue giving Kevin Wondra chances, do we ask him to resign or do we need to take a closer look at recalling him from office? What do you think? We welcome letters to the editor.