Kent Levy Court renews efforts to abolish office of county comptroller

 

DOVER — Kent County Levy Court continues to push for elimination of the state’s last remaining county comptroller.

House Bill 275 was introduced in the General Assembly last week. Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, sponsored the bill.

Levy Court has been pushing to cut the office since 2011, and the item will be discussed during tonight’s meeting.

Commissioners said in January the position is not needed since another department now handles the duties. Its elimination would save the county about $150,000 annually, they said. That includes salaries, benefits, expenses and related positions.

New Castle and Sussex did away with their county comptrollers more than 40 years ago.

Kent commissioners hope to eliminate the post before the position’s current term ends in 2017.

“There’s no need for the department,” said Levy Court President Brooks Banta. “The duties of the position are handled by the Kent County Department of Finance. I think it will be a smooth transition and it will save the county a tremendous amount of money.”

The Kent County comptroller audits all accounts for the Levy Court and row offices. The position also is responsible for reviewing financial records of public agencies that receive appropriations from the county and communicates with local banks regarding county funds.

The elected office is a four-year term that is up for election in 2016, which ends in the first week of January 2017.

While it is included in the election cycle, it is not a partisan position.

“The current comptroller fully endorses the elimination of the office,” Mr. Banta said. “I’m not sure if we had that type of support before, but she’s fine with it and believes it’s worthy enough to eliminate.”

For the last eight years the position has been held by Georgette Williams.

“I do feel that way,” Ms. Williams said, in support of eliminating the office. “I worked there many years ago, and back then the office was the heart of the county’s finance.

“With the creation of the finance department the responsibilities of the position are gone. Everything is computerized.”

Currently, the checks and balances are handled by processes that have been approved and vetted by the Kent County Levy Court commissioners, and includes more than two layers of approvals before final approval by the county administrator.

She plans to retire once her term is up in January.

“My retirement has nothing to do with my feelings toward the position,” Ms. Williams said. “I supported it back in 2011 and I still support it now. The comptroller is responsible for making sure the money is spent wisely and I’m being wise by saying that this position isn’t necessary to have.”

Mr. Banta hopes the bill will pass, but was careful to note it isn’t a sure thing.

“You can never predict what will happen,” Mr. Banta said. “I hope they look at this carefully and determine that the position is no longer needed. The money saved will benefit the county a lot.”

The meeting will begin tonight at 7 p.m. at the Levy Court Building at 555 Bay Road in Dover.

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