Supervisors to consider merging treasurer-tax collector, auditor-controller offices

bmorem@thetribunenews.comMay 13, 2013 

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Jim Erb as the County Administrative Officer; Dan Buckshi is the County Administrative Officer. Quotes attributed to Jim Erb were from Buckshi, not Erb, who was appointed to the position of Auditor-Controller in December 2012. The article states that Erb’s office proposed the merger; it was the County Administrative Office that initiated a project to analyze the feasibility of a merger.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on whether or not to consolidate the offices of county treasurer-tax collector and auditor-controller — a move that would save an estimated $150,000 a year initially and $300,000 a year after three years.

The savings, according to county Administrative Officer Dan Buckshi, would be realized through the combination of the two offices, attrition and the vacancy left by Assistant Tax Collector Art Bacon, who’s been serving as the interim tax collector and plans to retire next year. The position of county auditor-controller has been vacant since Auditor-Controller Gere Sibbach retired last year.

“Our goal is to not lay anyone off,” said Buckshi, whose office proposed the merger, “and to look for efficiencies throughout the year.”

Bacon has been the acting tax collector since longtime county tax collector Frank Frietas retired last year. The realignment would require supervisors to appoint someone to oversee the merged offices. That individual would then stand for election in two years.

First District Supervisor Frank Mecham is a proponent of the proposal. “I don’t have any heartache with (the proposal) as it will be more efficient while saving taxpayers’ money,” he said.

However, the concept of merging the two offices is opposed by Freitas, who believes too much financial control within a single department will eliminate current checks and balances of having separate financial offices.

Buckshi said that the county will bring in an outside auditor to address those concerns — a cost that’s included in the savings.

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