June 07, 2006
Eversole jumps on the Treasurer abolishment bandwagon

County Commissioner Jerry Eversole has joined the list of people calling for the abolishment of the County Treasurer's office.

Commissioner Jerry Eversole asked County Attorney Mike Stafford what steps the county needs to take "to set in motion the action of doing away with the office."

Eversole also asked budget officer Dick Raycraft to study how the county might redeploy the office's staff and what other departments might be able to take over its duties.

"Now would be a good time to look at it," Eversole said. "The important thing is to let it be known what we wish to do while the office is not occupied."

Abolishing the office requires a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment, which first must be approved by the state Legislature. A local lawmaker said he will sponsor the constitutional amendment legislation necessary to start that process if the county wants to.

"I'm interested in helping Commissioners Court do away with it, if they think there is a cost savings to be had here," said state Sen. Kyle Janek, who sponsored a similar measure for Fort Bend County during the 2005 regular session. Although the Fort Bend treasurer and other county officials supported the measure, it failed because of opposition from treasurers in other counties, Janek said.

Commissioner Sylvia Garcia said she supports Eversole's request for a study while the office is vacant. "This is a position that may have met its time," Garcia said. "If the office's responsibilities can be absorbed, there is a cost savings and it increases efficiencies, there's no reason not to do it."

Commissioners asked for the reports from Stafford and Raycraft before the next regular Commissioners Court meeting on June 20.

At this point, all four members of the Harris County Commissioner's Court are either in favor of abolishment, or at least not opposed to it - Steve Radack didn't espouse a position in the story of his spat with Orlando Sanchez, but he did say that abolishment "will be seriously considered by a majority of the members of Commissioners Court". That's close enough for me.

It's true that in terms of potential savings among county offices of questionable value, the Harris County Sports Authority is clearly the fatter target. But the Treasurer's office is basically a no-brainer. It's the definition of low-hanging fruit, and all the stars are aligning for its abolishment. I'd guess that successfully eliminating this office and demonstrating that there are no bad side effects to doing so would bolster the case for the anti-Sports Authority folks, since there'd be a success to point to. This isn't an either-or choice, but one can be done more quickly and with less resistance than the other. At least, that's how I see it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 07, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

"It's very easy to see that the Treasurer's office is a do-nothing."

It became that way when we voted in a "do-nothing" Treasurer.

If we have a "do-nothing" President, should we then eliminate the office?

Vote in a thorn-in-the-side Treasurer and the office can be an effective check on the integrity of Commissioners Court, who, by the way supports your lobbying efforts to eliminate this potentially nuisance position.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on June 7, 2006 6:25 PM

Of course Commissioners Court would be happy to see this potentially troublesome office eliminated - just as they would like to eliminate the Tax Assessor-Collector's position because of Bettencourt's irritating antics and that silly little issue of skyrocketing taxes. Put another Bettencourt-type in the County Treasury position and Commissioners Court will have to be even more careful with their own ummm... behavior. We should be fortunate that the State and not Commissioners Court holds sway over this decision - even if we ourselves cannot seem to elect an effective candidate. Even if we ourselves wonder what the office is for.

I think the next Treasurer should do a study on the feasibility of absorbing Commissioners Court. And if Commissioners Court withholds the Treasury's budget to do this study, the Treasurer will just have to cut County checks at the rate it has the budgeted manpower to cut them.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on June 7, 2006 6:51 PM