What does the City Treasurer do?

Brent Finnegan -- October 23rd, 2008

As part of our ongoing Q&A with local candidates, we asked all three candidates for City Treasurer; What does a City Treasurer do? What impact does the office have on the average city resident?

Here are their responses, unedited, in the order I received them:

Bill Ney: It is the responsibility of the City Treasurer to collect all fees due to the city, manage all accounts, and to oversee expenditures. This may be the first opportunity for the citizens to come into contact with an official of Harrisonburg.

While having to follow all laws and codes of the federal, state, and city government, I will try to interact with any citizen over their problems. I will help them get into contact with the right city official who can aid them with their problems.

This is the customer service that the tax payer deserves when they come into the Harrisonburg Treasurer’s Office and I have been providing that kind of service for the forty years.

Penny Paul Imeson: The City Treasurer oversees and accounts for the collection, safeguarding and disbursement of revenue, including local and state funds. Revenue collections include taxes for real estate and business and personal property in addition to numerous other fees, licenses, services, and permits.

When running smoothly and efficiently the office has little impact on the average city resident and city business owner. Smooth and efficient operations require excellent customer service, including timely and accurate communications. It is important to note that the Treasurer’s office is typically one of the first points of contact with new residents. First impressions can set the tone for the residents’ view of Harrisonburg’s local government. I envision a professional, courteous and welcoming business place, similar to a friendly neighborhood bank.

Jeff Shafer: The City Treasurer is responsible for collecting and receiving all City revenues, retaining and safe-keeping all City revenues and disbursing all City revenues within the boundaries set forth by Virginia State Code, and the Harrisonburg City Code. All city departments who receive City revenue are required to send their deposits to the Treasurer’s office for verification before being deposited with our local bank. We also receive tax payments (personal property, real estate, all trust taxes, business licenses, as well as state income tax monies) from taxpayers. Along with tax payments, we receive payments for other fees and payments such as utility bills, parking tickets, and we sell the city decals, parking permits, city dog tags and cigarette stamps. The treasurer works in conjunction with the Commissioner of the Revenue in numerous ways. The commissioner assesses the property for tax, the treasurer bills and collects the revenue. The treasurer also works in conjunction with the Department of Finance handling incoming and outgoing wire monies, posting daily deposits, journal vouchers, journal entries, etc. All monthly reports are proofed with the Department of Finance. Each month, the treasurer is also required by law to submit a report -a trial balance- to city council showing a statement of our accounts. The treasurer is also responsible for the distribution of all payroll and invoice checks for the City of Harrisonburg, and the Harrisonburg School Board. The treasurer is responsible for the collections of delinquent taxes using whatever means are granted by law. The treasurer is subject to an annual audit by the State of Virginia’s Auditor of Public Accounts dealing with all state revenue (income taxes, quarterly estimated taxes, sheriffs fees), and to an annual audit of the City. In addition to all of this, it is my opinion that the treasurer should also provide a working environment that will provide for efficient customer service. This involves everything from good management, leadership, and teamwork with the staff, to providing the equipment and technology necessary for the office to provide the best customer service possible, giving taxpayers more and more options to pay their taxes and bills. It is also important that the entire office continue in the education provided by the Treasurer’s Association of Virginia. The treasurer also needs to be very interactive with other city departments. The more involved this office is with other departments, the more cohesive we become not just as a treasurer’s office, but as a city government.

This is how I envision this office, and I have already taken action to see to it that this becomes a reality. That is how I hope the treasurer impacts our residents. I am here to serve, and I am here to make paying taxes a little more pleasant, by providing the best customer service possible and providing our taxpayers with as many options as possible to pay their taxes.

Three candidates are running for City Treasurer. We’ll post more questions and answers next week.

26 Responses to “What does the City Treasurer do?”

  1. blondiesez says:

    . . . and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why it takes more than cash-handling, customer service, or business ownership experience to run a municipal treasurer’s office.

    I might be biased — okay, I am biased — but it seems to me that only one candidate has the full grasp of what the Treasurer’s duties entail — and actually has experience and competency with such.

  2. JT says:

    I don’t know why Bill and Penny have the impression that a City Treasurer disperses money but it is incorrect. That is the job of the Finance department.

    Why anyone would vote for either of them is beyond me. They might both be very nice and capable people but in the end Jeff Shafer actually knows the job, the people, and has exceled in this position. To any reasonable person, who wants the best for the City, Jeff is the obvious choice. The other two are simply what is best for their respective parties.

  3. republitarian says:

    Big Ditto there…

    One has a complete understanding and the other two want a job and a pay raise.

    All you repubs and dems screaming about who is qualified to be president need to take a look at Jeff Shafer for treasurer.

  4. Renee says:

    “It is the responsibility of the City Treasurer to collect all fees due to the city, manage all accounts, and to oversee expenditures.”

    “The City Treasurer oversees and accounts for the collection, safeguarding and disbursement of revenue, including local and state funds.”

    “The City Treasurer is responsible for collecting and receiving all City revenues, retaining and safe-keeping all City revenues and disbursing all City revenues within the boundaries set forth by Virginia State Code, and the Harrisonburg City Code.”

    Umm…. I don’t know much about any of these candidates, but they all seem to have given very similar definitions (including disbursement) so I don’t understand why JT is saying that Bill and Penny are mistaken about what the treasurer does.

  5. Peppa says:

    Jeff talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. He is not a hands on leader. He has failed to learn the work of the office and continues to let a staffer run the office. He may talk about unity in the office, what a laugh. I would be willing to bet that his statement was co-written. He may be in the office, but he doesn’t deserve the office, let him run for Commissioner – he was trained for that position. The office needs someone who will jump in, make staff changes that need to be made – for a good working atmosphere. If you put aside the media blitz, that office was run very well. The former treasurer did a fantastic job – exceptional collection rate, fair to all citizens – not just big companies, consistant decisions, and no budget increases in many years.

    It’s easy say one is more qualified than the other because they happen to be in the office, that means absolutely nothing. I want someone who is willing to objectively look at the office, the duties and the staff and make it their own, not someone who is collecting the “big paycheck” and letting someone else run the place.

    If you doubt what I am saying, talk to the staff. One has to sit in her car at the end of the day and cry because of the current leadership and in-fighting.

  6. republitarian says:

    “If you doubt what I am saying, talk to the staff. One has to sit in her car at the end of the day and cry because of the current leadership and in-fighting.”

    Name names…anyone can post something like that.

    I have a close family member who worked for Bill Ney for years and every night around the dinner table she complained about the work environment, specifically the backstabbing, by both owners and employees.

  7. republitarian says:

    There is always a certain amount of that in EVERY workplace. Deal with it or get another job.

  8. finnegan says:

    Myron, you asked “Peppa” for names, but you didn’t provide one for your comment.

    Some of these comments are bordering on libel. Provide evidence or proof (as opposed to anonymous anecdotes) or keep it to yourself.

  9. republitarian says:

    Obviously, if I sat with her at the dinner table every night it would have to be my stepmother.

    None of these comments border on libel, Brent. Bill Ney is a public figure and so is Jeff Shafer. The standard on them is different.

    People make anecdotal remarks on here all the time….I guess since it’s me your standards are different?

    Brent, you didn’t seem to mind the anecdotal anonymous comments designed to hurt Jeff Shafer yet when the Republitarian tells you his stepmother worked there and the conditions you get all righteously indignant. Kinda looks like you have it in for someone.

  10. Emmy says:

    Myron, you said a “close family member”, you did not say your step-mother so why should he assume that’s who it was and why would anyone else know who that is.

    I could say “my uncle said this” and that means nothing if the person doesn’t know who my uncle is. I’ve known you for years and I didn’t even know you had a step-mother.

    You asked her to name names, so you shouldn’t assume people know who you’re talking about and do the same.

  11. finnegan says:

    “… when the Republitarian tells you…”

    You’re referring to yourself in the third person now?

    As you can see, I wrote “Some of these comments…” That does not exclude comments directed at Jeff.

    Anyone know where I can get one of these?

  12. republitarian says:

    Why was I put in moderation , Brent?

    Who is defining libel for you? Have any on staff legal advisors?

    Are you going to erase Peppa’s comments since they are anecdotal and anonymous?

    Did you complain about the titling of some of the posts on MudPit, yet turned a blind eye to some the outrageous titles of blogs like Cobalt6, Rockdem, and ValleyProgressive?

    The Republitarian loves to refer to himself in the third person…..

  13. finnegan says:

    I didn’t put you in moderation, Myron. I didn’t delete any of your comments. Stop jumping to conclusions. You of all people should know that WordPress isn’t perfect. Perhaps it was a glitch, or maybe someone else deleted your comment. There are multiple editors and admins here.

    Also, I’m not now, nor have I ever been a Democrat.

    I never said anything was libel. Go back and read what I wrote more closely.

  14. Emmy says:

    Myron, I have pulled you out of moderation twice today. I don’t know why you’re ending up there either.

  15. republitarian says:

    Thanks for answering those questions, Brent…now answer the rest.

    Brent, none of those comments even “bordered on Libel”.

  16. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    I’m fairly often put in moderation at Myron’s blog Republitarian and his wife’s blog Sunversuswind as well. Here as there, let us know and we’ll pull your comment out.

    Which post titles are you concerned about, Myron?

  17. republitarian says:

    Yes, because you put in a lot of links.

  18. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Thanks for your reply, Myron…now answer the question. ;-)

  19. finnegan says:

    Anyway, back to who’s most qualified to be treasurer…

    This discussion may be a lost cause at this point, but we’ll be back next week with more Q&A with the treasurer candidates.

  20. Peppa says:

    Ok, lets take the employee aspect out of my assessment. Have any of you gone to the treasurer’s office and seen Jeff working the front office, or handling customer complaints? While he may be a fine man, talented in music and running – he has not become instant treasurer because he was placed in that position. Ask a code question, or policy question of him – the answer won’t come from him. It will come from the staffer running the place, or any of the ladies out front.

    I see the need for a fresh start.

  21. Josh says:

    To be fair to Jeff, wouldn’t that be the same situation with Ney and Imeson? Are they already code/policy experts? I highly doubt it.

  22. megan says:

    Heh, Jeff is the fresh start.

  23. Peppa says:

    BINGO Josh. Just because he is there doesn’t make him the best choice.

    Its only my opinion – I feel that someone with no ties will provide a fresh start.

    If the current leadership (and I don’t mean Jeff) continues, the same ol’ same ol’ continues. Jeff is being lead, not leading.

  24. David Miller says:

    Seeing as I don’t work in the office, have any family with horror stories or really care about the office politics (I love self-employment) I can only offer the following. Jeff was a very competent office worker while in the Treasurer’s dept. That being said, no idea about the other candidates.

  25. republitarian says:

    You mean the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office.

  26. blondiesez says:

    maybe this is none of my business, because all I am is an average taxpayer who is tired of our Treasurer’s office being the butt of jokes, but:

    if you have allegations to make, make them. Name names. Including yourself. With specific references, if you please. I do try to be an educated voter, not educated-by-insinuation voter.

    Otherwise, leave it at the door. I’ve been in enough situations myself where those who wanted the status quo to remain to know to take any reactions to change with a very large grain of salt.

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