Monday, April 5, 2010
San Diego County Treasurer /Tax Collector, Dan McAllister, has completed two four year terms and is running for a third. For the first time, he has a challenger. The senior internal auditor of the County’s pension fund, Bill Betts, says he has ideas of ways to make the department more efficient.
San Diego County Treasurer /Tax Collector, Dan McAllister, has completed two four-year terms and is running for a third. For the first time, he has a challenger. The senior internal auditor of the County’s pension fund, Bill Betts, says he has ideas of ways to make the department more efficient.
The Treasurer Tax Collector’s job involves collecting $4 billion in property taxes and investing more than $6 billion in public money.
McAllister says his office has made property tax bills clearer and invested up to a hundred million dollars in local banks to be reinvested in the community.
McAllister has had a couple of negative mentions in the media recently: one was a report that he failed to reveal the results of an audit he had commissioned, which showed his office improperly withheld $8 million in overpaid taxes. After a public records request was filed, McAlister did take action.
“68 percent of that audit was dismissed,” McAllister said, “as either hearsay, rumor or something that had been talked about before.”
Then 700 San Diegans got double billed on their property taxes.
“It took 2 days to reverse the charges back into their bank accounts.” McAllister said, and he laid the blame at the door of the county’s IT contractor, Northrop Grumman.
But Bill Betts, the internal auditor for the County’s $7 billion pension fund, decided McAllister needed to be challenged. When no one else took out papers, he paid the $1,500 fee to register as a candidate.
“It’s to give the public a choice of whether they want him to continue in the office after the stories that have come out, or whether they want to vote for someone else.” Betts said, sitting outside his office, “I’m giving the public an alternative.”
Betts says he’d cut the credit card fees for people filing their property taxes electronically, and offer ten monthly tax payments, rather than two lump sums a year.
Candidates are raising thousands of dollars to fight more high profile races, but not in this one.
“Everything has been funded out of my own pocket, “Betts said, “which basically consists of a bunch of bumper stickers that I had printed up.”
In the relatively low key world of high County finance, even this challenge is unusual.