Auditor-Controller & Treasurer-Tax Collector

Auditor-Controller & Treasurer-Tax Collector
June 10, 2010
By Beth Gabor, Yolo County Public Information Officer and Tyler Chuck, UCLA Intern

Have you ever wondered what happens to your local tax dollars and who manages the county’s finances? Look no farther than the Yolo County Auditor-Controller & Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office.

The office of the Auditor-Controller & Treasurer-Tax Collector manages the finances not only for the county, but also for special districts, joint powers authorities, cities and school districts. The office is responsible for treasury management, general accounting, property tax collection and accounting, financial reporting, auditing, cost accounting, budgeting, payroll, debt management and countywide collection services. In the past year alone, the office processed approximately 275,000 transactions, which include payments to all county vendors and employee payroll.

The Auditor-Controller & Treasurer-Tax Collector office is actually the combination of two offices. The Auditor-Controller division pays bills, maintains the books and ensures that financial reports are reliable, checking for fraud, waste and abuse. This is done with auditors who come in two types: internal auditors, who are employed by the county; and external auditors, who are contracted by the county. Both types of auditors verify the accounts and the checks and balances to ensure financial accountability for the residents of Yolo County.

The Treasurer-Tax Collector division of the office works in the areas of tax collection, banking and investments. The office annually prints and mails approximately 70,000 tax bills and manages the treasury pool for over 95 entities, including the county, with an average portfolio of $300 million ($120 million county and $280 million non-county). Fiscally, Yolo County chooses a conservative approach by investing up to five years out in fixed income securities such as government securities and bonds. Yolo County’s Auditor-Controller & Treasurer-Tax Collector, Howard Newens notes, “there is not much room for discretion and no room for speculation as a public entity.”

Yolo County receives the largest chunk of its money from property taxes (68%) but only keeps 10% of what it collects. The remaining is distributed to school districts (54%), cities (18% to cities and 15% to redevelopment agencies) and special districts (3%). The office is responsible for collecting over $290 million in property taxes for the benefit of all these entities.

Along the lines of collections, the Yolo County Collections Services (YCCS) portion of the office is where one goes to pay any fees due to the county such as payment for a probation officer. YCCS currently collects for eight county departments, all four cities and six special districts for debts greater than $100. This program is also responsible for collecting miscellaneous revenue due to the county such as franchise agreements, Tribal Mitigation funds and other payments negotiated by the Board of Supervisors.

Beyond treasury management and collections, the Auditor-Controller & Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office maintains the books of accounts, pays vendors and manages the county payroll. The office also advises the County Administrator’s Office in budget forecasts. Newens believes, “the better we know the past, the more accurately we can predict the future.”

Auditor-Controller & Treasurer-Tax Collector Newens regularly provides treasury reports to the Board of Supervisors, compiles the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report which lists the county’s assets and liability, and develops the Citizen’s Financial Report, part of the county’s Annual Report. To view these publications and more, visit: www.yolocounty.org (go to Government > County Administrator > Reports & Publications).