The county treasurer plays a major role in the fiscal operations
of local governments in Whatcom County.
Does every Washington
State County have a county treasurer?
Every County has an elected county treasurer (38) except
King County (Seattle), which, through its home rule charter,
has an appointed position. (RCW 36.16.030) Washington State
Constitution Article 11, Section 5.
How does a person
become county treasurer?
Article 11, Section 5 of the Washington State Constitution
provides for a county treasurer who shall be elected by the
qualified voters of each county. (RCW 36.16.030)
Why is the
county treasurer an elected position?
The county treasurer position was deliberately established
in the Washington State Constitution to provide independence
in managing public monies. The position provides a check
and balance between the clerk, assessor, auditor and commissioners.
The treasurer also serves other local government entities,
e.g. schools, ports, fire districts, etc. besides the county.
The treasurer is accountable directly to the citizens on how
the public's money is managed.
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How long is the term of
an elected county treasurer?
County treasurers hold office for a term of four years.
If a vacancy occurs during a term, an election is held at
the next succeeding general election. (RCW 36.16.010)
Who may serve as
State law does not prescribe any formal qualifications
other than being a qualified voter. Every person elected
to the county treasurer's office takes an oath to faithfully
and impartially discharge the duties of the office to the
best of his/her ability and furnishes a bond that he or she
will faithfully perform the duties of his/her office and account
for and distribute all money which the treasurer receives.
The requirement of being bonded implies that the person is
a qualifying adult and is of sufficiently trustworthy character
to secure and provide the required surety bond.
What are the primary
duties of the county treasurer? Top
The county treasurer plays a major role in the financial infrastructure
of local government. The treasurer is the custodian of all
funds for the county and governmental subdivisions. The treasurer's
office operates much like a bank. The treasurer is primarily
- Collecting real and personal property taxes (including
performing foreclosure and personal property distriant activities
on delinquent accounts), special assessments, excise tax,
gambling taxes and miscellaneous receipts from other county
districts and departments.
- Accounting for all funds and deposits of revenues for
the state, county, cities, and junior taxing districts (schools,
cemeteries, fire and drainage).
- Determining if adequate cash is available and authorizing
the release of warrants for payment to vendors.
- Administering short and long term debt financing.
- Managing cash flow of the county and investing funds
not needed for immediate expenditures for the county and
junior taxing districts.
- Coordinating bank services and facilitating financial
planning within and between the county and various taxing
Who makes deposits
to the county treasury? Back to
Property taxpayers, junior taxing districts and county departments
comprise the majority of the depositors. All monies collected
by the treasurer are deposited in a qualified financial institution.
All junior taxing districts and county departments are required
to deposit monies within 24 hours.
How does the
county treasurer assure the safekeeping of public funds as
required by law?
The county treasurer, through a competitive bid process,
selects a primary depository as set forth by the Public Deposit
Protection Commission. The treasurer maintains records of
all the deposits and withdrawals and reconciles all bank statements,
thereby assuring the accuracy and safety of public funds.
The County Finance Committee, comprised of the county treasurer,
county auditor, and chair of the county legislative authority,
oversees banking services.
does the treasurer handle unappropriated funds and/or funds
not needed immediately to meet the obligations of the county?
Upon written direction of the governing body of any municipal
corporation, the county treasurer may invest funds not required
for immediate expenditure in legally authorized investments
such as certificates of deposit, repurchase agreements, bankers
acceptances, treasury bills, bonds, notes, commercial paper,
and federal agency issues.
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Is an investment
Yes. By Washington State law, the County Finance Committee
is responsible for establishing an investment policy. The
investment policy provides the framework in which the county
treasurer invests the public's money. Whatcom County's Investment
Policy is certified by the Washington Municipal Treasurer's
percentage of regional versus county services does the county
It is estimated that 60 percent of the workload in the
Whatcom County Treasurer's Office is directed toward providing
services to the taxing districts and cities and 40 percent
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does the county treasurer add value to the taxing districts
and other governmental agencies?
- Efficiency and expertise in providing countywide treasury
- Centralized collection (receipting of taxes, fees, etc.).
- Reduces local government financial service costs to county
- Investment pooling to increase interest earning, especially
to smaller entities.
- Helps with cash flow funding by investing in registered
warrants as appropriate.
- Reduces banking service costs through volume discounts.
- Eliminates the need to hire staff at the district level
to perform treasury management services (staff plus overhead
- Provides additional internal controls.
- Provides financial analysis on projects at the district's
- Provides budget assistance in such areas as revenue projections
and debt service payments.
How is the county
treasurer's office structured?
The Whatcom County Treasurer's Office has four departments:
Finance – Accounting, cash management, banking
services, financial reporting, and debt management.
Tax Service – Taxpayer services, remittance processing,
System Management – Program assistance, coordination
of data processing, public assistance and tax statement production.
Collections – Special Assessments, personal property,
real property and foreclosure processes.
What confidence can
the public have in the fiscal structure of county government?
Washington State county government is structured so that
county financial undertakings are open to the public and within
the actual office knowledge of more than one elected official.
The county treasurer is an integral part of this system of
internal controls designed to prevent excessive concentration
of power in one official. Dispersing public fiscal duties
among several officials assures an orderly and honorable administration
of public finance.
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