Flynn: Yates should change treasurer role
YATES COUNTY--In a recent letter to the Yates County Legislature Finance Committee, County Administrator and Treasurer Nonie Flynn announced she is not planning to seek reelection for the treasurer position in the county and is recommending changes be made to the financial oversight positions.
"Having spent the last seven years in that position, and examining the operations of Yates County and the State of New York, I believe that now is an appropriate time for the legislature to consider a change from a full-time elected treasurer position to a combination of a part-time treasurer with diminished responsibilities and a full-time director of finance," she stated in the note.
The letter continues, "Yates County is increasingly being required to administer various programs that are either unfunded or not adequately funded by the state and federal governments. Such mandates, together with the revenue constraints of the county, require the best financial administration possible. An appointed position of director of finance would ensure the effective management of our county's fiscal responsibilities. The legislature would require a director of finance to have professional qualifications and a professional background and would be able to provide increased transparency and better direction, control, and coordination of governmental finances."
In Flynn's comparison of the two types of positions, an elected treasurer is directly accountable to voters but has no required qualifications, no mandate for transparency, no requirement to report on the overall fiscal position, there can be no change until an election and no legislative control or oversight.
For the new split limited treasurer and full-time finance director, Flynn states the model would still allow some voter accountability but would require qualifications for the director, allow for the removal of that person with due process and the requirement of reports to the legislature. The change would mean there is no direct accountability to voters for some responsibilities and comes at an increased cost with two people holding the titles.
"Because of relatively recent changes in the election law, the proposition and an abstract must be transmitted to the Board of Elections at least three (3) months prior to the aforementioned referendum," Flynn's note said. "This year's general election is Nov. 3, meaning that the information must be to the Board of Elections on or before Aug. 3."
Based on a review of the New York State Association of Counties 2020 Directory, of the 57 counties outside New York City, 39 have elected treasurers, 10 have elected comptrollers, seven have directors of finance and 17 have auditors. Not counting Yates, 44 list two or more separate and distinct finance-related positions; only eight list the treasurer as the only position.
Ontario and Seneca Counties both have an elected treasurer and a director of finance. Ontario passed its law in 2003 and Seneca in 2016.