- I Need to…
Orchestrating a smooth transition is a critical task for any leader. It requires solid planning to drive the right strategy and unite employees to achieve a common goal. It also requires passion, hard work, discipline, and exceptional decision-making at every level of the organization.
At the end of my first year as Will County Treasurer, I am proud of what my team has achieved. We are leaner and more efficient. We have cut costs in ways that benefits the public as well as our budget. We are working toward a vision that will make our office a model for innovation and creativity.
I am very honored to have the opportunity to work with my team, and I thank them for the all their accomplishments this year. I am very excited about our future together.
Steve Weber, CPA
Will County Treasurer
Click to view the financial data from the Annual Report for 2011.
In order for an organization to be successful, it must have a vision. The Will County Treasurer’s Office remains dedicated to providing reliable banking services for county agencies, secure investment of your tax dollars, and trustworthy accounting services that provide transparency for county residents.
Financial Safety – We place the highest priority on the safety of the money we collect and invest. Our office will manage money in such a way that cultivates public trust and meets the county’s operating, payroll, capital and statutory disbursement requirements.
Strategic Innovation – We will find cost savings through measurable organizational strategy. We will evaluate improvements in the office on suitability (Would it work?), feasibility (Can it be made to work?), and acceptability (Will it work?)
Helpful Service – We value our role as a public servant. We will treat our customers for who they are: our employers and our neighbors.
We will handle the people’s money dependably.
Priority #1: Saving Taxpayer’s Money
Eliminating Fees Paid to Banks
Our office aggressively reviews agreements and negotiates with vendors to achieve cost savings. We successfully lowered the cost of our banking relationships this year by leveraging the amount of money we deposit with our financial partners. This strategy eliminated approximately $25,000 in fees for services such as our Lockbox. We also introduced new services at no-cost to our budget, including Armored Car Service and Remote Deposit Capture technology.
Checking Account Review
We performed the first formal review of bank accounts held by the Treasurer’s Office in approximately 10 years. We asked local banks for proposals related to seven checking accounts worth $9.6-million. MB Financial Bank won the review, and will pay an interest rate that is nearly twice what the county received on those deposits in 2010—representing a $10,000 increase in interest paid on those deposits.
Tax Sale Notices
We outsourced the mailing of tax sale notices to a company that specializes in bulk registered mail. They developed a solution to use US Post Office regulations in our favor, saving county taxpayers $9,326 not including postage.
New Investment Policy
In February, the Treasurer’s Office adopted a new investment policy as required by the Illinois Public Funds Investment Act. The new policy is a major revision and improvement over the previous policy in several ways.
- The new policy defines Ethical Standards by which I, my Deputy and Assistant Deputies will hold us accountable in order to assure the public that our investment decisions are impartial.
- The new policy, for the first time, defines a performance measurement by which my office can gauge portfolio performance. This measurement is a critical benchmark in order to achieve our objective to maximize the overall investment yield of the portfolio while minimizing risk.
The new policy also requires financial analysis of the banks where we deposit county funds. It is through this review process that we identified the impending collapse of both Integra Bank and the Bank of Shorewood. In both cases, we suspended the banks from the tax collection program and began withdrawing county deposits before FDIC closed the banks—protecting approximately $6-million of taxpayer’s money.
Priority #2: Making Government Work Better
Governor Quinn Signs HB-2101
In July, Governor Quinn signed legislation proposed by our office earlier this year. HB-2101, now Public Act 97-0129, allows counties to deposit funds with Illinois credit unions. By the end of the year, the County Board had approved four local credit unions to accept Will County deposits. These credit unions will accept property tax payments in 2011.
Employee Focus Groups
Senior Management held a series of focus groups with the staff over the summer. The purpose was to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the agency, its operation, and its mission.
The focus groups generated a wide range of feedback as well as numerous practical recommendations, solid policy discussions, and frank feedback on how better to achieve the agency’s goals and objectives. We have completed or nearly completed 13 of 15 recommendations as of this report.
When he was the Will County Auditor, Steve Weber introduced a “Four-Ten” work schedule for his employees. The staff worked four, ten-hour days, and received a fifth day off—giving the staff a three-day weekend.
As County Treasurer, Weber rolled out a 4/10 schedule along with the option of working a 9/9 schedule which provides an employee an extra day off every other week.
One recommendation from the Focus Group was to group employees together by function. As a result, we lowered the ratio of FTEs-to-Managers and improved communication within the office. We implemented a weekly manager’s meeting and weekly team meeting.
Next year, managers will begin annual performance evaluations with their direct reports. The purpose of the evaluation is to develop employees in their assigned task, justify merit or performance-based raises, and cultivate future office leadership.
Priority #3: Making It Easier for the Public
We launched an upgraded version of www.WillCountyTreasurer.com in March. As part of the design process, we conducted more than two dozen interviews with people who use the site regularly and integrated many of their ideas. The new site features an improved design and layout, easier navigation, more relevant information, improved functionality, and integration with our Social Media presence.
Overhaul Merchant Card Processing
We selected Bank of America Merchant Services to process the office’s $92.6-million credit card portfolio beginning in 2012. In the process, we averted a fee increase to people who pay their property tax bills on our website. The five year agreement will save taxpayers up to 43% in credit card convenience fees, or approximately $125,000 in total fees compared to fees paid in 2011.
The agreement also lowers the fee for checking account payments. Beginning next year, it will be cheaper than a postage stamp for people who pay from their checking or savings account.