Flynn proposes Director of Finance for Yates County

John Christensen

Plans not to run for Treasurer in 2021, advises splitting duties with appointed DOF

Yates County Treasurer and Administrator Nonie Flynn has stated her intention not to seek re-election as Treasurer in 2021. In anticipation of a new candidate running, Flynn has suggested to the Yates County Legislature that the current duties be split between the elected Treasurer as a part-time post, and an appointed Director of Finance, hired for their professional skills.

“At present, I do not anticipate seeking re-election to the position of Treasurer in 2021 for the term beginning Jan. 1, 2022, says Flynn. “Having spent the last seven years in that position, and examining the operations of Yates County and the State of New York, I believe that now is an appropriate time for the Legislature to consider a change from a full-time elected Treasurer position to a combination of a part-time Treasurer with diminished responsibilities and a full-time Director of Finance.”

Yates County is increasingly required to administer various programs that are either unfunded or not adequately funded by State and Federal mandates, a source of constant frustration to the legislators an taxpayers.  “Such mandates, together with the revenue constraints of the County, require the best financial administration possible,” says Flynn  “An appointed position of Director of Finance would ensure the effective management of our County’s fiscal responsibilities.”

Any Director of Finance appointed by the legislature would be required to have professional qualifications and a professional work history. Flynn believes such a professional “would be able to provide increased transparency and better direction, control, and coordination of governmental finances.” A referendum is required for the local law subject to enact the change. 

“In fairness to anyone that may run for Treasurer in next year’s election, the local law and referendum should occur this year,” says Flynn. “Yates County’s budget is now over $46 million and we cannot run the risk of having an elected person in the position that does not have a financial background.  This proposal will not dilute the power of the voter because we will still have an elected official that will have full access to all of the financial records,” she adds.

Because of relatively recent changes in the state’s Election Law, the formal proposition and an abstract must be presented to the Board of Elections at least 3 months prior to the referendum.  With this year’s Nov. 3 general election, that information must be presented on or before Aug. 3.  

At their July 13 meeting, the Legislature chose to proceed, and scheduled a special meeting at 6 p.m. July 27 for the public hearing followed by a vote on the referendum to give County Attorney Scott Falvey and Legislature Clerk Connie Hayes time to prepare the necessary documents. 

Flynn apologized for the hurried schedule. “I had planned to present this concept to you in April,” she stated to the legislators, “but the pandemic demanded my attention.”

A review of N.Y.S. Assoc. of Counties’s 2020 Directory, shows that of the 57 counties outside New York City, 39 have elected Treasurers, 10 have elected Comptrollers, seven have Directors of Finance, and 17 have Auditors.  Not counting Yates, 44 counties list two or more separate and distinct Finance-related positions; only eight list the Treasurer as the only Finance-related position. Both Ontario and Seneca Counties have elected Treasurers and appointed Directors of Finance.  Ontario passed its Local Law in 2003 and Seneca in 2016.