My business background and education as a certified public accountant taught me the importance of ethics and controlling expenses in order to make a profit.
Ethics and controlling expenses are concepts sometimes neglected inside government. Transparency is also important in government, because the taxpayers should be regarded as the “owners.”
Lifelong elected officials sometimes forget that. Madison County is run by a Democrat machine. For years — actually decades — one party has ruled this county and that’s expensive for taxpayers.
It’s time for a change. Change is uncomfortable, but necessary in order to make progress.
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I’m not a professional politician. I don’t hold two government-elected positions and I’m willing to make changes.
As treasurer, the changes I’ve made include:
▪ reducing the treasurer’s office budget by 30 percent;
▪ stopping the no-bid county investments with a Little Rock, Ark., bond salesman;
▪ automating the tax sales; and
▪ tripling investment deposits in local banks from $30 million to $90 million.
As an outsider, I blew the whistle when the insiders wouldn’t say a word. I shouldn’t have to remind people what happened in the past, but sometimes it’s necessary.
Ten years ago, the chairman knew about unethical tax sales, but he didn’t say or do anything to stop it. Because the county did nothing, the FBI investigated and the former treasurer was sent to federal prison for bid rigging.
It doesn’t take a CPA to know property taxes are too high and ethics are too low.
My plan is to reduce the county tax levy by at least 10 percent without reducing services. How can this be done? Easy, the county has been padding its annual budget for years by levying more than it needs —taking money unnecessarily out of the taxpayers’ pockets.
The county isn’t always transparent in how it operates. I will do better by:
▪ providing online notification when positions on boards and commissions become available.
▪ using online software to open up bidding to more vendors, as is done in other counties. Better bidding practices will save taxpayers money.
▪ appointing an ethics adviser, a position which the chairman has not filled this past year.
▪ driving my personal vehicle (not a county car) and submitting receipts for purchases (no county-issued credit card).
Not speaking up when obvious wrongdoing is taking place indicates a culture of bad ethics, whether in business or government.
When one political party is in charge for too long, bad things can happen. It’s human nature. Checks and balances are healthy.
It’s time for a change. I will work to reduce taxes and improve ethics.