Clinton County Treasurer
Solving the Simple Problems First:
We have simple solutions to the problems that still exist and then we have complex decisions which are going to require real leadership, difficult decisions and willing participants to turn Clinton County around. Lets first begin with the simple ones.
We need to open the Dewitt Satellite Office to public service five days a week. Over the past four years I have heard every excuse on why it can't be done from the classics "we need more money," to the questionably insightful, "we can't because the Board of Supervisor's won't let me." We have even heard the attempt at factual, "we only do ten percent of our county business in DeWitt so we don't need to."
Lets clear these easy claims up quickly. By state law the Board of Supervisors does not have authority to restrict or tell any elected official what they can or cannot do. A choice not to do something is solely upon the elected individual who makes the decision.
By state law the Board of Supervisors has no authority to tell any elected official in Clinton County how they spend their money. They Board of Supervisors may cut funding if it chooses. However, this argument is null since the Treasurer's Office has never been cut; in fact, it has grown. Allocation to the Treasurer's Office was $825,702 in 2015 and sits at $932,090 today. That is an increase of $106,388 in four years! Still, services have not increased.
Actually, the last statement is correct, just for the wrong reason. When the DeWitt Satellite Office is open one day a week it does only 10% of county services. Simple math, open it all five days a week, it will do 50% of the county's business, hence why it was built. On days when it is not open for business, residents are forced to the Clinton Administration Building. That is why multiple car sales in DeWitt are mailed to Clinton and processed in batches rather than conveniently being processesed in DeWitt.
Muscatine County, Iowa is roughly our size. Muscatine County has 6.5 employees in the Treasurer's Office. Clinton County has 12 employees. Making this work for all residents comes down to willingness and making managerial decisions that work for everyone.
Our Real Problem:
Taking on the flu for each of us is always a problem. Using a cough drop definitely helps us make it through a meeting, but the problem of the flu is still there. Getting a flu shot helps, well sometimes helps. What we need is more than preventative care, we need a shot of adrenaline.
Clinton County is the fastest shrinking county in the state of Iowa. In 2017 Clinton County lost just over 4% of its population and in the prior year it lost 2.4% of its population. Simply put, there is not enough growth in select cities to sustain what it costs to run the county. Also, those living in the Clinton County cannot be taxed more to pick up the burden for those who have left.
I have heard and read this issue is "not the job of the Treasurer" (DeWitt Observer, 4/11/2018). That argument is the very problem! When government officials say it is not their job, they choose for the status quo. This is the job of every elected official. This is the job of every employee who works for the county. Everyone must be at the table to find solutions. Waiting to be asked to help find a solution is an excuse for an unwillingness to participate.
If the Treasurer's Office serves only as a tax collector then it should not be an elected position. Yes, I said it! If all the position does is take your money, then why do you employ that position as an elected office? It might as well be a bureaucratic position just like any other that reports directly to the Board of Supervisors.
It is elected because there are different ways to do the job. In every budget session the Board of Supervisors serves as the legislative branch which determines where funds are expensed. The Auditor's Office pays the bills. The Treasurer's Office must be an active participant on where and how much money there is. I have read and heard "that is the job of the budget director" (DeWitt Observer, 4/11/2018). I totally agree! That is because we have a budget director doing the job of the County Treasurer. Determining how much money can be spent must solely fall on the shoulders of an elected official. As Treasurer, no budget decision will be made without me in the room!
Some of our cities are growing, some are land-locked, and some are growing in the wrong direction. Every boarded up house places its' tax burden on the neighbors it surrounds.
Properties do not have to wait to tax sale to be transferred. (At this point my critics are going to quote every point in Iowa Code they can to counter my stance.) They don't because I will take them to the Board of Supervisors. Any willing buyers can justify their goals to the Board of Supervisors; that is why we have a Board of Supervisors! Simple request, will the Board of Supervisors forgive past taxes that will never be paid so that the property can be improved and placed back on the tax roles, or...... do nothing and watch cities and the county fail by "demolition by neglect."
This is the very core of why I am running. For this county to turn the tide around the Treasurer must work with city administrators, city councils, the Board of Supervisors, and residents to put each property back into use. The alternative; how far can we shrink.
Thank you for visiting shawnhamerlinck.com. Also, thank you for allowing me to serve as Clinton County Supervisor the past four years. It has been a job I have truly loved. I ran and served with goals, nearly each of them I have accomplished. The goals we miss accomplishing are always the ones that overshadow successes and continue to bother us. For that reason I am asking to serve as Clinton County Treasurer.