Viewpoint

Why I have the longest job title ever

January 7, 2014 

Jim Erb

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

A practical bouquet is tossed back to The Tribune for recognizing the extravagant, impractical title of my elected position.

’Tis but my title that is my enemy (Shakespeare, kind of); The Tribune (while awarding me my second lifetime bouquet on Jan. 3, 2014) got it right when stating that my title, Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector, is a mouthful. My legal title is actually Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector-Public Administrator, more than a mouthful!

I often wonder if by stating my whole title I will exceed the three minutes the Board of Supervisors allows at the lectern, put people to sleep, grow old, have grass grow under my feet or need to shave again. How could this have happened to me when my name is only six letters (Jim Erb)? Did I want a title to beat all titles, or have I been caught up in a government code and regulation nightmare? It is the latter; California Government Code defines the elected position titles of Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector. While Public Administrator is not normally a unique elected position, the office itself must reside with an elected official.

The Tribune’s idea for a Department of Finance was a good suggestion, but that has already been taken. The title Department of Finance with a Finance Director is reserved by Government Code for appointed Auditor-Controllers-Treasurer-Tax Collectors, not elected positions.

The most interesting acronym I have seen so far is AC TC (like AC/DC), but there is no acronym that is in itself not also a mouthful: ACTTCPA. I may as well stick with the title; I would have to spell it out for people to understand the acronym definition. Thus, I am saddled with the full title unless I can get Gov. Jerry Brown to endorse a change. I have a feeling he is dealing with more important issues.

I have an extremely interesting and diverse position. It covers internal audits, the whistleblower hotline, payroll and all other forms of payments for services and support, monitoring travel expenses, financial reporting, state and federal reporting, establishing accounting policy, enterprise software system support, property tax allocations, cost plan development, budget development and monitoring, investments for the county, schools and special districts with a daily average of over half a billion dollars, property taxes, hotel taxes, business improvement district assessments, business licenses, trash hauling rates, estates of deceased persons when there is no one else to manage the estate, and being a pension trust board trustee, deferred compensation administrator, a member of the labor committee and various unrelated steering committees. That explains the long title.

My only salvation to this whole title/job duty problem is signing my name, a simple, refreshing Jim Erb will do.

Thanks to The Tribune for having fun with this topic.

Jim Erb is San Luis Obispo County Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector-Public Administrator.

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