Why should the Treasurer’s Office be abolished?

Eliminating the office will save taxpayers more than $500,000 per year and make our county government more accountable to its citizens. Treasurer positions were created in Texas all the way back in 1846, and in many cases, like ours, they have become outdated and redundant as the shape of government and technology has evolved overtime. Today, we have a County Auditor (appointed by district judges) and Finance staff (hired by commissioner’s court) that are professionally qualified and serve similar functions. The Galveston County Treasurer is a part-time, full-pay and benefits position that adds one more level of bureaucracy to the mix. An unnecessary level that makes our money less safe, as we saw three years ago when the county was scammed out of more than half a million dollars. Nobody was held accountable.

For context, the State of Texas eliminated the State Treasurer position in 1996 and nine other counties – Andrews, Bee, Bexar, Collin, El Paso, Fayette, Gregg, Nueces and Tarrant – have done away with their own office as well. Those counties vary greatly in population size (ranging from 25,000 to almost 2 million residents) and in annual budgets ($15 million to $1.7 billion) at the time of abolishment. They, like us, were all similar in their desire to eliminate waste. Every time the state Legislature has put a constitutional amendment on the ballot regarding this issue, voters overwhelmingly decide in favor of abolishment. It’s not just the treasurer either; many counties in years past, including Galveston County, have voted to eliminate the elected county surveyor position among others.

Who would take over the duties? Who will keep our money safe?

Responsibilities, such as executing payroll and liaising with bank depositories and our county investment committee, would likely be moved under the county auditor and county finance departments. The Treasurer’s office costs approximately $700,000 per year as of the last budget cycle. By moving duties to existing departments and eliminating upper administration and redundancy costs, we can expect to reduce expenditures drastically. For example, an estimate to outsource payroll, the largest activity, came in near $50,000.

It’s a common misconception that the treasurer functions as the CFO of the county, and the career politician, incumbent and taxpayer funded lobbyist group of other county treasurers would like for people to continue believing that. Galveston County actually has its own designated Chief Financial Officer position. It also has a County Auditor. Both the CFO and County Auditor have departments of trained finance staff that perform similar and redundant functions to the treasurer already. For them, taking on these few duties would be seamless.

Another point to note, the county hires external auditors to review and report on finances each year. Meaning, there are at least three layers of safeguards outside of the treasurer to keep money safe. Removing a self-serving, elected official is one of the easiest and best ways we can improve efficiency, accountability, and safety.

This all makes sense. Why hasn’t it been done already?

Before the most recent Texas Legislative Session, your Galveston County Commissioners Court unanimously adopted a legislative agenda which included allowing Galveston County voters the opportunity to decide on the abolishment of their County Treasurer’s Office.

Our local State Representative Mayes Middleton and local State Senator Brandon Creighton filed a bill in Austin to place the question on the 2021 Constitutional Election ballot.

Hank personally attended the hearing and testified in support of advancing the item. However, the bill never moved forward due to pressure and false attacks from the incumbent, career politician Treasurer and taxpayer funded lobbyists who feared the loss of their government gravy train.

The citizens of Galveston County deserve the right to vote to eliminate this waste. We will not get that opportunity as long as a self-serving politician stands in the way. Watch this video to hear your County Judge and Commissioners share their thoughts on the matter.

What is the process? How long will it take?

On day one after taking office in January 2023, Hank will shut the office down and work full-time to add a ballot item to abolish the office officially, once and for all, to the next Texas Constitutional Amendment Election. Led by a newly elected Treasurer and with the support of all of the county’s cities and a petition of voters, the state legislature will see a united front and move the item forward as they have dozens of times over to eliminate other outdated positions. By summer 2023 an item will have been approved by the legislature and added to ballots for consideration in the November 2023 election.