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Angie Carpenter, Keeping balance in local government
March 10, 2006 @ 12:00 am EST
Friday morning we had the pleasure of hearing from Suffolk County’s Treasurer, Angie M. Carpenter on the subject of what her office does and why it is important for the county to continue to have an independent Treasurer. Angie opened up with a little of her background as a small business career before she went into public service, which is focused on making Long Island a place where we live, not leave. After term limits pushed her out of the Legislature, she arrived at the Treasurer’s office expecting to find a laid-back, slow paced office, but found herself with a dedicated, motivated staff. She explained the different divisions of the Treasurer’s office, their functions and how they interface with Suffolk’s town Tax Recievers and the public.
Having laid the foundation of the function for the office, she presented her case for maintaining the Treasurer’s office, by noting how the major bond rating agencies liked the way that this was constructed, and pointing out that after the Orange County, CA’s bankruptcy debacle, they changed their model to Suffolk’s style, with the independent Comptroller and Treasurer. Presently, the Treasurer is an elected post, which serves to maintain that independent watchdog status over the County’s finances. She also followed up her explanation of her office’s function with her view of what the savings to the county would be if her office was eliminated. The only jobs that would go away were her’s and a few deputy positions, because the functions that the Treasurer’s office performs are not currently duplicated in the Comptroller’s office.
She also reiterated that there is strong support in the Legislature for maintaining the status quo, and recounting a story that affirms her conviction that she believes in the process and structure of the office. A legislator said that they might support the move to eliminate the position, but would want it to take effect after her term was up, because she was duly elected, and to not serve out her term would be changing the rules of the game in midstream. Angie was willing to say that if it is the right thing to do to eliminate her office, then do it now, to save the money, rather than simply playing out the string until it’s end. She strongly believes in this, and her independence was shown in the Q & A session. One of our members fired a question asking her position on the county keeping the difference in the sale price and taxes owed on a delinquent property, and used the example of what happened to a family in Amityville last year where the difference was quite substantial, and it was a story that tugged at everybody’s heartstrings. Instead of pandering to the crowd and agreeing that this was an egregious example of greed by the county, Angie explained that some procedures were dictated by state law, and spoke to the additional costs associated with seizing a property and auctioning it off, and keeping the consequences of tax delinquency in the forefront of the public’s mind.
As always, it was another jump start to our Friday morning, with a substantial breakfast for the mind and an exchange with an important public official on a timely subject.
This meeting was presided over, and recap written by Craig Plunkett EMF