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Is elected treasurer necessary?

By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Recent debate about the 2012 reduction in the Auburn city clerk’s salary have sparked questions about why the city treasurer’s salary is not being reduced. Several officials and residents also question whether or not the cost of an elected city treasurer is necessary, and whether either position should come with full insurance benefits. Auburn Andy Heath is Auburn’s administrative services director. Heath makes an annual base salary of $123,469. He also receives $600 in deferred compensation annually. Heath can’t access his deferred compensation funds until he leaves the city’s employment. Heath also has an annul $1,800 auto allowance. The city pays an annual $11,953 toward his CalPERS fund and $22,103 in medical benefits. Heath handles the city’s finances as well as managing human resources, risk management and information technology. “I’m basically the controller for the city,” Heath said. “I just make sure the city has the means to pay all its bills, make sure the city has all its funds when they are needed.” Heath has a bachelor’s degree in business accounting and a master’s in economics. George Williams is Auburn’s elected city treasurer. Williams makes an annual base salary of $3,240. The city also pays $12,048 for his annual medical benefits. Williams said his responsibilities include guarding the city’s money, making sure it’s being spent properly and helping to facilitate investments for the city. Williams said he spends about 10 hours a week on his city treasurer duties, but he does not submit a time card. Williams has 40 years of accounting experience and a master’s degree in business with a concentration in finance. Heath said since 2004, when Williams became treasurer, city investments have made $2,141,983 of interest. “George, he plays more of a fiduciary role in a lot of investment-related decisions the city makes,” Heath said. “He also assists with any pending financial strategic decisions. It’s mainly just cash control and investment control that George does. He is just another voice for the city, so it’s not just me and (City Manager) Bob (Richardson). He’s an elected official, so he has that autonomous voice.” Commerce Commerce, which is located in Los Angeles County, has a population of 13,550, which is very close to Auburn’s population of 13,432. Vilko Domic is the finance director and city treasurer for Commerce. He handles finance issues, oversees the information technology division and handles a lot of oversight of the daily operations of the city, he said. Domic receives an annual salary of $160,305. The city pays $10,661 toward his CalPERS fund and $5,219 in annual deferred compensation. The city also pays an annual $21,928 for his medical benefits. Domic has a bachelor’s degree in political studies and a master’s in public administration with an emphasis in financial management. Domic’s city treasurer position is combined with his finance director position and is not elected. Loomis Roger Carroll is the staff finance director and elected city treasurer for the town of Loomis. Carroll said his city treasurer position is honorary and he receives an extra $50 per month for it. Carroll handles all financial responsibilities for the town as well as facilitating investments for his city treasurer role. Carroll receives an annual $92,075 base salary. The town also pays $7,366 annually for his CalPERS fund and $14,004 for his medical benefits. Carroll has a bachelor’s degree in accountancy, a certified public accountant certificate, an associate risk manager certificate and a certificate in public funds investment management. Lincoln Anna Jatczak is the chief financial officer and assistant city manager for Lincoln. Jatczak oversees all financial responsibilities as well as business licensing, utility billing, risk management, safety, information technology and property management. She also holds several other responsibilities as assistant city manager including labor negotiations, reviewing City Council staff reports, acting as city manager when the city manager is absent, organizational development and more. Jatczak makes an annual base salary of $152,000. She also receives an annual auto allowance of $5,400. The city pays $2,576 for her medical benefits and $22,618 toward her CalPERS fund annually. Jatczak has a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a master’s degree in international management, business administration. Sheron Watkins is Lincoln’s elected city treasurer. Watkins, Auburn’s former city clerk, said her only duty is to be responsible for the city’s investment policy and make sure money is being properly invested according to that policy. Watkins said she works for the city about four times a year. Watkins makes an annual salary of $600. The city also pays $6,504 annually for her medical benefits. Watkins has a bachelor’s degree in public administration and is a certified city clerk. Rocklin Kimberly Sarkovich is Rocklin’s chief financial officer and appointed city treasurer. She handles all financial responsibilities for the city including facilitating investments. Sarkovich makes a base salary of $124,992 annually. She also makes an annual $6,000 city treasurer stipend. The city pays an annual $4,656 for her medical benefits, $6,000 for deferred compensation and $23,260 for her CalPERS fund. Sarkovich has a bachelor’s degree in finance and a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She is also a certified public accountant. The city of Rocklin doesn’t have an elected treasurer. What people think about an elected city treasurer Auburn’s elected treasurer, George Williams, said the people of Auburn have voted twice to uphold the elected city treasurer position, but he doesn’t have strong feelings either way about whether or not there needs to be an elected treasurer. Williams said the role is important, however, because it keeps him separate from city control. “If you have a fiduciary responsibility, as I believe I do as city treasurer, you can’t be answerable to the people who are spending the funds I’m monitoring,” he said. While Administrative Services Director Andy Heath could easily handle Williams’ responsibilities, he couldn’t provide the independent oversight of city spending, Williams said. “Andy is a highly competent and very experienced financial director,” he said. “My responsibility is a little different from him. It’s more of an overseer of taxpayer money.” Heath said he thinks Williams’ role is extremely important to the city. “George, in his role as city treasurer, is an integral part of the decision-making process as to how city funds are ultimately invested,” Heath said. “Before any investments are made, I assure there is consensus among George, the city manager and myself as to which investment alternatives should be considered consistent with the city’s Investment Policy.” Lincoln resident Bob Murdock, who was visiting Auburn recently, said he doesn’t agree with electing city treasurers, because the person might not know anything about their responsibilities. Murdock said he thinks a staff member should take care of financial responsibilities, unless they are not qualified to do so. “You are paying for that staff (person), and it’s not like $15,000 is any big deal (to pay the Auburn city treasurer), but why have that position at all?” Murdock asked. “If the current administrator is qualified, let him do the whole job.” Terry Dorsey, who serves as the civilian director on the city of Lincoln’s investment committee, said he doesn’t think Lincoln’s elected treasurer, Sheron Watkins, has a huge impact on the city, because she has to follow an investment policy. “As long as you follow that, what can you do?” Dorsey asked. Dorsey said he doesn’t see the point of such a small position. “I don’t see why it’s elected,” he said. “You either pay them more (to do the job) … or eliminate (the position).” Loomis Treasurer Roger Carroll, who is also a full-time employee, said it’s good for him to have some autonomy from the town council through his elected treasurer position, but he is able to handle all the responsibilities himself. “I love being the elected guy, but the reality is, as one person, I do it all,” he said. “It’s always nice to have the people’s person in there … but the reality is public investing is so complicated that unless you are looking at it every day … I don’t know how you could do it.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Auburn Population: 13,432 Budget: $20,290,000 Andy Heath-staff administrative services director Total compensation: $159,925 George Williams-elected city treasurer Total compensation: $15,288 Commerce Population: 13,550 Budget: $110,000,000 Vilko Domic-staff finance director and city treasurer Total compensation: $198,113 Loomis Population: 6,677 Budget: $2,800,000 Roger Carroll-staff finance director and elected city treasurer Total compensation: $113,445 Lincoln Population: 40,060 Budget: $63,147,363 Anna Jatczak-staff chief financial officer and assistant city manager Total compensation: $182,594 Sheron Watkins: elected city treasurer Total compensation: $7,104 Rocklin Population: 54,754 Budget: $48,672,107 Kimberly Sarkovich-staff chief financial officer and appointed city treasurer Total compensation: $164,908