Cathy Miller is looking to make changes at the Greenwood County Treasurer’s Office.
The former Beyond Abuse director was named treasurer in October and wants to change how her office handles special tax districts, which Greenwood County Council approved creating in December 2014.
The county has 47 special tax districts, each a different homeowner association that is not governed, formed or regulated by the government. These districts are governed by their members, but the Treasurer’s Office collects homeowner fees to help control the special districts’ spending. If a special district runs an invoice, two of the three county council-approved commission members have to attach the invoice to a check, sign the check and send it to the county, which will collect the amount in taxes and proceed to actually pay the bill.
To help the special districts manage their balances, the county is obligated to give them a monthly report of how much money they have in their fund balance for general public work services, such as landscaping, transportation, water treatment and sewage collection.
“We are acting as the accounting firm for the special tax districts,” Miller said.
She thinks County Council should look at her office’s role with special districts and see what the office is required to do by law, as opposed to what they are currently doing.
“I’m looking for the elimination of some non-value-added activity for our staff,” Miller said. “It adds no value to the County Treasurer’s office performing the accounting for homeowner associations.”
She does not take issue with collecting taxes or being a fiduciary because it helps the special districts, but she wants the Treasurer’s Office to send the fees back to the districts to pay all related bills.
“I do have concerns with me having basically a full-time person here on staff who is doing nothing but supporting homeowner associations, and I could use that person for more value-added activities,” Miller said.
Miller has approached other counties about how they handle special tax districts and either they have the districts handle their own payments or they don’t do special districts at all.
She suggested special districts have the option to have directors and officers liability insurance to keep members from misspending and avoid misappropriation of funds.
“It’s time for us to look for another avenue to help support them and grow as economic development and new housing come in,” Miller said.