Yes on Measure H

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auditBy Jim Provenza and Don Saylor

GUEST COMMENTARY – Measure H will increase efficiency and accountability within Yolo County by providing an effective financial system.

Measure H was placed on the ballot by a 5-0 vote of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors and is supported by the Mayors of all four Yolo County cities. This measure proposes to consolidate the offices of Auditor-Controller/Tax Collector-Treasurer and other countywide fiscal functions under a Department of Finance by establishing an appointed Director of Finance, creating an independent finance oversight committee, and requiring an annual independent audit of the Department of Finance.

Currently, the County Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector is an elected position. Under current state and local law, the only requirements for seeking this office are that the individual possess minimum credentialing in accounting.  In the complex world of government accounting and financial management of the treasury, these minimum qualifications are not sufficient.

An appointed Director of Finance is necessary to provide long-term financial planning and stability. The transition from an elected Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector to an appointed Director of Finance will integrate the County’s financial management operations. To assure accountability and transparency, the measure also creates a financeoversight committee and requires an annual independent audit of the Department of Finance. Measure H will:

  • REDUCE COSTS. Measure H reduces taxpayer costs by at least $180,000 annually through consolidation of financial operations. Based on the experience of other counties, long-term costs savings will be realized from consolidating the financial expertise that exists in county administration, auditor-controller, and other departments.
  • IMPROVE EFFICIENCY. Measure H consolidates the County’s financial operations into a single office. In tough economic times, it is vital to reform and consolidate Yolo County’s financial offices to improve efficiency. Based on a review of county financial operations, there are two separate organizational units performing related and sometimes redundant financial management and planning functions.
  • ENHANCE ACCOUNTABILITY. Measure H establishes a Finance Oversight Committee and requires an annual independent audit of the internal controls of the Department of Finance. The Finance Oversight Committee will consist of representatives of the public with financial expertise, including cities, special districts, and school districts, and the Board of Supervisors.  This is an added level of scrutiny beyond any current practices.
  • IMPROVE CANDIDATE QUALIFICATIONS. Establishing this position as an appointed Director of Finance, will allow applying professional standards in excess of the minimum qualifications required by state law. An increasing number of Counties are making this transition in order to respond to increased complexities of financial management and integration of financial systems. The Board of Supervisors will appoint the Director of Finance with input from other stakeholder groups. The Director of Finance can only be dismissed with cause following a public hearing.

Under our democratic system voters have the right to elect officials who will make decisions in the best interest of this county and its citizens. Voters rightly expect their elected officials to work tirelessly to examine and implement the best practices in the interest of Yolo County. That is precisely why Measure H is being proposed by the five elected members of the Board of Supervisors. The economy we are in today is the toughest in the past 70 years. Yolo County is seeking ways to save money and improve accountability and service. Measure H is a successful cost-savings model being put into practice throughout the state.

We ask for your support.

Jim Provenza is Chair and the representative for the 4th District on the County Board of Supervisors – he represents the eastern and southern portion of the city of Davis.  Don Saylor is the representative for the 2nd District on the County Board of Supervisors – he represents the western and northern portion of the city of Davis.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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5 thoughts on “Yes on Measure H”

  1. Michael Harrington

    Are there there specific evidence and problems where the elected position holder screwed up ?

    “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

    It seems like consolidating and removing the election concentrates power in the Board and creates a conflict of interest, right ?

  2. hpierce

    Please indulge in an “off-topic”… just heard of the passing of George McGovern. The first year that 18 year-olds were allowed to vote, I voted for Sen McGovern at 18 years + 1 day of age.

    No matter your political persuasion… no matter what measures you support or oppose… if you are eligible to vote, please inform yourself of the candidates/issues, and VOTE.

    If you are eligible to vote, and don’t, please don’t whine about ANYTHING.

  3. hpierce

    [quote]It seems like consolidating and removing the election concentrates power in the Board and creates a conflict of interest, right ? [/quote]WRONG. Unless you are advocating the election of the City Finance director. The City employs outside auditors. Outside auditors are not a financial liability for the agency for retirement contributions, retiree benefits, etc. Perhaps Mr Harrington could view this as decreasing the number of personnel on the Finance truck by at lest one.

  4. Rifkin

    I strongly support Measure H. Were it up to me, all of the elected department heads would be appointees, not separately elected. It makes no more sense that we elect our Sheriff-Coroner than if we were to elect the Davis Police Chief; we should no more elect the Controller-Auditor for the County than we should elect the Director of Finance for the City of Davis.

    Michael suggests, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Good point, but it is broken. Other than once every four years, there is no oversight over these elected department heads. There was a ridiculous incident (reported by The Vanguard) not that long ago involving some very unprofessional behavior of our elected Sheriff toward one of his deputies, and that deputy is now suing our County.

    If the Supervisors appointed the Sheriff, or did so in consultation with the County Administrator, then the Supes would have oversight over the Sheriff and he could be held accountable for his actions. As things now stand, next to nothing can be done until the next election (short of recall), and elections for managerial positions are no panacea.

    Keep in mind that most of these managerial elections are completely uncompetitive. Either there is just one candidate, or two and one has almost all of the campaign funds to win office.

    In most cases the actual job of the manager is a mystery to nearly everyone who votes; and a total mystery to the vast majority of eligible voters who decide they know too little to even cast a ballot.

    If I were to show a picture of Howard Newens to 1,000 eligible voters in Davis, how many of them could tell you who he was? (Probably only a few of his neighbors. He lives here.) How many would know Mr. Newens, who happens to be excellent at his job, is our elected Auditor-Controller if I showed them his picture and gave his name? Maybe 2%? 1.5%?

    That lack of knowledge is terribly important for a couple of reasons: first, it shows that most of us don’t pay one lick of attention to these elected managers; and second, we as voters are not exercising informed oversight.

    It would be very easy for someone who is elected to one of these managerial posts to collect his paycheck and never even show up at work. The supervisors could not do a darn thing about that.

    But if these various posts become appointments, and the person works out well, they will advance in the job. If they suck, the supes can get rid of them. Being a supervisor is supposedly a full-time. Each has two offices and a staff of three underlings. Our supes should be required to manage these department heads, at least enough to make sure they are coming to work.

    If then, it turns out that we have department heads who don’t perform and the supes fail to oversee them, we should get rid of the supes. At least those legislative offices are positions that the voters pay attention to.

  5. eagle eye

    Rifkin makes some very good points, I must agree.

    But on the other hand, our Supervisors don’t really “supervise”.
    Probation’s had problems for a long time, likewise mental health and
    social services, and facilities management, to name a few.

    In some counties, department heads jump when Supervisors call, but
    not so much in Yolo County. Too many “friendships”.

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