Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/08/2010 10:36:48 PM PST

San Bernardino County’s elected treasurer/tax collector position would be eliminated and folded into the Auditor-Controller Recorder, Public Administrator and Assessor’s offices, under a plan being considered by the Board of Supervisors.

The move could save the county between $500,000 and $1million a year by eliminating about 10 positions through attrition and consolidations, county spokesman David Wert said.

Six of the approximately 10 positions planned for elimination are now vacant, including the treasurer/tax collector post, which has a base salary of $160,000 a year, Wert said.

The move is part of an effort to cut the budgets of all county departments by 20percent.

The departments will be presenting new plans reflecting those cuts next month, Wert said.

The proposed consolidations would streamline operations and eliminate duplication, he said.

“There’s simply no need for more than two departments to cover the duties that are now being carried out by three departments, and there’s no reason to subject the public to more bureaucracy than necessary,” Wert said.

Under the proposal, the offices of the county clerk and recorder would shift to the Assessor’s Office, while the functions of the Treasurer/Tax Collector’s Office would become part of the Auditor-Controller’s Office, under the purview of Auditor-Controller Larry Walker.

But former Treasurer/Tax Collector Dick Larsen is calling the proposal “one of the biggest midnight thefts in a long time.”

“They’re bypassing the electoral process, taking the decision to vote for the treasurer/tax collector away from the people,” Larsen said.

Though Walker has plenty of experience as an accountant, Larsen said Walker does not have the investment and securities background to handle the responsibilities that go with overseeing the county’s $4billion to $5billion investment pool.

“As far as the investment pool is concerned, the proposal is to have it overseen by the same people who are overseeing it now,” Wert said. “It’s just instead of reporting to no one, they would be reporting to Larry Walker, and then whoever the voters choose to oversee it in June.”

Walker is a qualified CPA and has served on the county Debt Advisory Commission for years, Wert said.

As a member of the Board of Supervisors from 1986 to 1998, Walker made investment decisions on behalf of the county.

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