Putnam County Treasurer's office open again

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Putnam County Treasurer's bond premium claim was approved for payment at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, pending approval of the County Council on Jan. 19.

"The insurance company agreed to issue the bond prior to the final approval," explained County Commissioner Kristina Warren. "The bond was backdated to Jan. 1, 2010."

The bond premium claim was submitted to the Auditor's office in late Dec. 2009. It was unable to be paid because there was $1,981.75 in the bond account that would have paid the normal amount for the treasurer that is $1,010.

New treasurer Sharon Owens' claim was for $19,950.

"Since the premium claim jumped dramatically from one treasurer to the next, the county needed to investigate the matter," said Warren. "The county was not advised by Owens that there would be an increase in the bond premium; therefore, the amount was not increased from the standard $3,500 that is allotted to pay all county elected officials and bonded deputies.

According to Warren, the county council and commissioners did not have sufficient time to appropriate and pay the bond because the notice was given so late.

"An additional appropriation has to be advertised 10 days before a meeting and the council had already met on Dec. 15, " explained Warren. "The commissioners cannot approve payment of a claim for the auditor without sufficient funds available.

The funds to pay Owens bond were appropriated from the commissioners' budget.

Due to the circumstances causing the increase to the bond premium, the boards did not know if it would be the responsibility of the taxpayers to pay the difference. The State Board of Accounts advised the county to refer it to their county attorney.

Commissioners did so during their Monday meeting.

County Attorney Scott Hoff researched the matter and advised both boards the law did not have any exception regarding the amount of the bond, and it is the county's obligation to pay the additional $18,940.

Owens's position is an elected and not an appointed one.

"The bond premium has been paid by the county and the treasurer's office is open," said Warren.