Keep treasurer, auditor operating independently

info@islandpacket.comOctober 27, 2012 

Vote "no" Nov. 6 on changing Beaufort County's form of government.

This change would replace elected county treasurer and auditor with employees selected by the county administrator and council. These positions should be kept independent of other county functions.

This change is a power grab by County Council and the administrator. The council justifies the change because of an employee's embezzling under a former treasurer's poor controls. Indications are the new treasurer has cured these deficiencies.

The County Council has little room to criticize. After ignoring a citizens advisory committee's recommendations from 2001 to 2004, the outside auditors for the county cited poor internal control in a 2008 report. County administration provides no decent financial transparency; hence, major over-spending problems are not visible to residents. Council must clean up its own house, not take on new responsibility.

The primary function of council must be establishing policies and ensuring they are followed. For example, look at the lack of enforcement of the business license ordinance for years. The council has too many micro-managing committee meetings. Many administration employees must attend these meetings instead of performing their jobs. Council has authorized each of 11 members to be paid $40 per meeting for up to 144 meetings a year --almost three per week. This $5,760 maximum meeting stipend is in addition to member salaries of $11,038 and $14,349 for the chairman. Would council need 50 or 60 more meetings if voters approve the change? Vote "no."

Jim Bequette

Lady's Island

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