Simonton: Getting to know the treasurer’s office
Even if you’re not excited about financial topics, you may be interested in learning more about your treasurer’s office operation, and how our approach to cash management positively impacts county revenues.
As the property tax collector and the county’s internal bank, we receive the majority of the revenue flowing into the county. Some of the money is retained, but the vast majority is distributed to other taxing entities. Eagle County government’s portion of these funds covers operating expenses, and when there are excess funds, the treasurer’s office makes investment decisions to diversify and maximize returns.
Before we have money to invest we must bill and collect annual property taxes. Every year in late December we receive the tax rolls from the county assessor, which are a compilation of mill levy amounts from each local taxing authority, and any other fees or exemptions that are tied to property tax accounts. We review and process this data through our tax collection software, and then mail property tax statements to owners in late January.
We collect incoming payments, and at the end of each month distribute the funds to each of the county’s taxing authorities including school districts, towns, special districts and our community college. By the end of June, we have typically collected and distributed the majority of the amount we billed in January. Reaching out to delinquent account holders after the payment deadlines, and ultimately selling tax liens at our annual sale in November, are critical steps in ensuring the taxing authorities receive the funds they count on to operate their organizations for the year.
Thirteen percent of property taxes collected are retained and used by the county for operating expenses. As these revenues accumulate throughout the year, we move the funds between the bank and short- and longer-term interest-bearing accounts to maximize the interest we earn. We work closely with the county’s finance department and other internal department leaders to understand the operation’s cash flow needs and timing of expenditures and move the county’s money accordingly.
As your treasurer, I work closely with our investment advisors, and pay attention to economic indicators, choosing our investments with care. In 2019 these efforts resulted in interest revenues of $2.1 million; $390,000 higher than 2018 and $476,000 higher than our budget forecast.
Notably, our yields from legally allowed longer-term investments beat the industry-standard Bank of America U.S. Treasury Index by a little more than half a percentage point. These additional funds are used to supplement operating expenses and to increase the county’s reserve fund.
People have asked why the county has a finance department and a treasurer, and the answer is simple. We collect the taxes, provide the county’s banking functions and invest excess revenues, and the finance team provides accounting for the county. Both roles are important and necessary to maintain accuracy, security, liquidity and productivity of the county’s finances and financial structure.
Please remember to provide us with your current mailing address so there is no delay in receiving your annual statements. This year payments can be made in two equal installments; the first half is due on the last day of February and the second half is due on June 15. If taxpayers prefer one full payment, it is due no later than April 30. This year is a leap year and Feb. 29 falls on Saturday, so the first-half payments are due on the following Monday, March 2.
Our work is engaging, precision is mandatory and we have a superb team. Our goal is to provide prompt and friendly customer service to all clients and stakeholders, and we are happy to answer your questions. Feel free to reach out to me personally with comments, concerns or questions and I look forward to hearing from you during 2020.
Teak Simonton is the treasurer for Eagle County. For more information, contact the treasurer’s office at 970-328-8860
or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.