Editorials

Henderson will bring accountability to office

Joy Logan has had 20 years to show she can handle the job of county treasurer.

What we've seen is a pattern of mismanagement and excuses that demands change in that office.

Doug Henderson offers that change, and we recommend him for treasurer.

Henderson is a retired banker who recognizes the need for checks and balances that ensure tax dollars are handled in a secure, sensible manner. He rightly points out that you don't have to worry about whether an employee is lying to you or a security camera is turned on if you have the appropriate systems in place to watch over the public's money.

He will bring much-needed accountability.

In addition to that accountability, he promises open communications with other governmental agencies, the public, financial institutions and the media, recognizing the importance of full disclosure in building trust. That approach is in stark contrast to the current regime, where even governmental entities have a tough time getting complete, timely information from the Treasurer's Office.

Henderson also pledges to do away with anachronistic hand-written records, a criticism contained in the forensic audit done after money from the 2009 annual tax sale could not be accounted for. The outside auditors had to be brought in because Beaufort County Sheriff's Office investigators found the records to be a mess.

Ultimately, a former Treasurer's Office employee was charged with embezzling $210,000. That same employee had been rehired by Logan after being caught taking $600 two years earlier. Inexcusable.

And the missing money is just one of many problems found in that office over the years.

Three audits since 2005 have found consistent problems with late deposits, delays in posting to the county ledger and lack of documentation and verification.

The forensic audit completed earlier this year found no independent review of cashiers' work in collecting and recording payments to redeem property sold in the annual tax sale; records for the annual sale kept in notebooks and maintained by hand; and an average six-day lag between the time property is redeemed and the money is deposited in the bank. A rubber stamp of Logan's signature was kept in a back office where many employees had access to it. Again, inexcusable.

Only a change at the top can restore trust in this very important office, which collects and distributes money not only for Beaufort County, but also for the school district, municipalities, public service districts and fire districts. We can't afford more excuses and slipshod bookkeeping at the most elementary of levels.

Just remember, Henderson is on the ballot as an independent petition candidate. A straight-party vote requires extra steps to vote for him. Review your ballot carefully and bring change and accountability to the Treasurer's Office.

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