Why We Need a New County Treasurer
In a recent YouTube video of a brown bag lunch hosted by the Pima County Republican Party, the current Pima County Treasurer was asked why she was running for a sixth term. Instead of listing some of her ideas for the next four-year term, she merely said that there will be “a whole lot of new row officers so I will be the only one that’s got any historical knowledge.” (Row officers are the county attorney, sheriff, treasurer, assessor, recorder, superintendent of schools, justices of the peace and constables).
Given that Pima County residents have been suffering the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for the past six months, that answer was neither helpful nor encouraging. County residents sacrificing social interaction while attempting to take care of personal obligations have found no sympathy or assistance from the Treasurer’s office. Instead, they have faced the same inadequate and impersonal service that has characterized the leadership of the Pima County Treasurer’s office for the past 20 years.
Serving for 20 years in the same office is surely enough to provide historical knowledge. But just knowing how things have worked in the past is not what Pima County residents need now.
Consider a few things that might have made life better for Pima County taxpayers: moving the tax lien sale from in-person to online; upgrading the treasurer’s website to provide more information; updating the phone system to eliminate long waits on hold.
Any of these things would benefit Pima County taxpayers; none would require historical knowledge. They would, however, require a willingness to analyze, plan and apply effective systems to create and manage exceptional service to Pima County residents.
The county officers we elect this year can leave a better legacy than the one they received. As a candidate for Treasurer, I know the statutory requirements for the job. But I also know that there can be so much more to the office than what statutes require.
I have a vision for a user-friendly Treasurer’s office. As soon as possible after being elected, I will commit to the following: First, I will implement a scheduling system so those who have business with the office don’t run up parking fees waiting for someone to help them. Next, I will upgrade the phone system so there are alternatives to endless minutes on hold.
I will make investment information available online so those with an interest in transparency can monitor the performance of our investments. I will implement an online tax lien sales system to enhance performance and provide investor safety in these trying times. And I will make the status of those sales available to the investors, so they don’t accrue legal fees after a lien has been redeemed.
Last, and especially important in these tough times, I will put in place a payment plan, in accordance with statute, and proactively reach out to taxpayers who are struggling with their property taxes, providing a plan to allow them to stay in their homes.
I have a vision for a better Pima County, a county the recognizes the physical, financial and ethnic diversity of everyone and works collectively to make the quality of life better for everyone and a Treasurer’s office that will play a significant role in achieving that vision. Much more than mere historical knowledge, the Pima County Treasurer’s office needs new energy, new ideas and new focus on public service.
I have the competence, having managed the financial performance of several mutli- million dollar organizations, the will, and the resolve to make that vision a reality. I hope you will join me on the journey. I am Brian Bickel, Democratic candidate for Pima County Treasurer.