Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 • City moves to abolish treasurer position

Publisher’s note: This story is reprinted from the Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 edition of the Lassen County Times.

The Susanville City Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that would abolish the city treasurer position and transfer those responsibilities to the city’s finance division effective June 30, 2014, and revise the city code to eliminate all ordinances and parts of ordinances that mention the city treasurer or the inventory clerk.

Some may consider the abolishment of the elected position controversial.

In a letter to the editor of the Lassen County Times, Richard Stovall, who has been elected to the city treasurer position for the past 16 years, said he would file a lawsuit against the city if it abolishes the position.

City Administrator Jared Hancock said the position is no longer needed because all but one of the duties have already been transferred to “paid, professional staff.”

“It’s been determined the city treasurer no longer serves a critical role for the city,” Hancock said.

He noted not all cities have a treasurer position, and the council had already decided not to include the treasurer position on the June ballot.

According to Hancock, the authority to abolish the position is found in Government Code Section 51506. Hancock said Julie Bustamante, the county’s election officer, and Stovall cite Government Code Section 36508 which requires “if the position be changed from an elected to an appointed position, it must go to a vote of the people.”

Hancock said the city’s approach was not to change the position from elected to appointed, but to abolish it entirely.

“I’m very confident and comfortable you can abolish this position, and other cities have done it,” said Peter Talia, the city’s attorney.

He said the county clerk is correct if the position is changed from elected to appointed that requires a vote of the people.

“But if you’re going to abolish it (the position), it’s in your hands,” Talia said. “I’m extremely confident I’m right.”

Councilman Lino Callegari said there was no need of the position, and he was in favor of letting it go.

Councilmember Brian Wilson reminded Talia, “We’re relying on you,” regarding his legal advice to the council.