Guest Editorial: Former County Treasurer Martha Gustavsen talks about the County Treasurer’s Office

Retired County Treasurer Martha Gustavsen shares a happy moment with her granddaughter.

MARTHA GUSTAVSEN

There are many reasons why the office of County Treasurer in Montgomery County should not be abolished. I served as Montgomery County Treasurer from 26.5 years (January 1, 1987 to June 30, 2013). In September of 2013, the County Treasurers’ Association of Texas presented me a “Lifetime Membership” in their association.

The County Treasurer has control of all money for the county. The County Treasurer is audited by the County Auditor every day. These two departments are separate and imperative to the function of check and balance in the County Government. Dispersion of public fiscal duties among several officials elected and appointed, assures an orderly and honorable administration of public finance in ways that inspire and merit public trust.

The County Treasurer is an integral part of internal controls that is designed to prevent excessive concentration of power in one official. The same system of checks and balances is seen in our legislative branch with both a Senate and a House.

If abolished the duties are County Treasurer are assumed by other county offices usually under an appointed official, not elected. In one county where the Treasurer was abolished, they eventually reinstated the position as an appointed Treasurer. The office of County Treasurer is vital to the system of checks and balances that provides an important role to records of money flowing in and out of county government.

During the November 2006 election, the citizens of Harris County had the option to elect an individual that was running on the platform to abolish the office of Harris County Treasurer. The citizens of Harris County spoke out loudly when they voted to keep the office of Harris County Treasurer and elected Mr. Orlando Sanchez.

County government is an extension of the state. County Treasurers collect and report on behalf of the State Comptroller. The State Comptroller entrusts and depends upon our existence.

Abolition bills surface from personality conflicts among officials rather than a position of being a sound fiscally responsible decision. I urge Precinct 3 Commissioners James Noack to reconsider his idea to abolish this office.

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