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Senate Committee Oral Statement From Karen Adams

Senate Committee Oral Statement From Karen Adams

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Published by YubaNet
Karen Adams, Merced County TTC-CCROV
Oral Testimony presented to California Senate Local Government Committee on March, 17, 2010
Karen Adams, Merced County TTC-CCROV
Oral Testimony presented to California Senate Local Government Committee on March, 17, 2010

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Categories:Types, Letters
Published by: YubaNet on Jun 21, 2012
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06/21/2012

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Karen Adams, Merced County TTC-CCROVOral Testimony
presented to California Senate Local GovernmentCommittee on March, 17, 2010
Good Morning! Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.I am Karen Adams, the Elected Merced County Treasurer-Tax Collector-County Clerk-Registrar of Voters- Revenue Officer and Ex-officio Trusteefor Merced County Employees Retirement Association which is a 1937 ActRetirement Plan. I state all my titles with no arrogance, but rather toillustrate the multiple hats I wear each day at Merced County. I am also aCertified Public Accountant and as the elected Treasurer-Tax Collector Imeet 4 of the 5 qualification standards set forth to run for office.I began my career as a CPA working in auditing and tax law. 17 years ago,I transferred to the public sector at Merced County as a staff auditor in theAuditor Controller’s office. Several years later, I was promoted to theAssistant TTC responsible for the treasury including fixed income investing.In 2002, I was elected Treasurer-Tax Collector and now run unopposed formy 3
rd
term.In 2008, I was approached by the CEO regarding consolidating theAuditor’s office under my authority as TTC because the Auditor wasretiring. No surprise to the CEO, I declined the offer and reiterated myposition that I believe a consolidation of the offices would violateindependence and provide no protection for the citizens. He agreed and
 
Treasurer-Tax Collector Page 2
instead offered me the other 4 departments under the retiring Auditorauthority.In an effort to be a team playerI agreed to participate in thisconsolidation. During consolidation communications I realized negotiationswere not going the way I intended. Therefore, I agreed to take only theCounty Clerk, Registrar of Voters, Revenue Office with the Recorders officeconsolidated under the Assessor. While I will confess my hesitance towear 6 hats on a daily basis, I am thankful for the staff I am truly privilegedto work with. Each unique division has a genuine passion for serving theircommunity and I am truly grateful to have my position in leadership.Of course an individual can wear multiple hats and with grit anddetermination be successful, but I request you consider the question doeseffectiveness get sacrificed.Therefore…I confess…that Yes… a person Can do it all, but Should they?
In some cases a consolidation may be practical and benefit the citizens ifno “incompatibility of authority” exists. Clearly the Auditor and Treasurerare not compatible and clash of duties does so exist. Incompatibilityaddresses the need for independence.Government Code clearly defines the Treasurer’s fiduciary dutyentrusted with the safekeeping of all cash & investments. While a deskhas no portability, cash is a highly liquid seize-able asset subject to lossin many ways. The intent of the initial laws prohibiting incompatible
 
Treasurer-Tax Collector Page 3
offices remedied this potential loss. Additional code mandates anoversight authority to audit the Treasury for potential loss by requiring amonthly audit performed by the County Auditor.Internal auditing provides a cornerstone for strong governance. Anauditor is an individual expected to provide an “unbiased” evaluation ofthe accuracy of financial transactions and accounts. It is a fallacy toconsider that some one can be “unbiased” of your self.With no disrespect to my combined colleagues whom I admire, I believethe laws were designed to avoid the perception of impropriety andmaintain independence for these important fiscal offices. Byconsolidating Treasurer-Tax Collector with Auditor-Controller you erodeassurance that safekeeping will be provided at its highest level anddeficiencies may not be detected or exposed within an organizationseeking to promote itself as a well managed division of the county.Both the audit and treasury investment function are specialized fields ofstudy requiring a commitment. As the years have passed by during thisevolution, I no longer hold myself out as an auditor or tax accountantbecause much of that specialty is now stale or outdated. I now holdmyself out as a Chief Investment Officer (Treasurer) committed topreservation of capital through the key fiduciary prudent man principal ofSLY for Safety, Liquidity, and Yield. As an Elected, I do not compromiseto the political pressure to take undue risk to seek yield. However, ifAppointed, I would be bound by the Board of Supervisors in fear ofdismissal for not abiding by their request to do so.

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