(Sarpy County, NE) -- The Sarpy County Board of Commissioners votes unanimously to begin legal action against Sarpy County Treasurer Brian Zuger.
Tuesday's move follows the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts’ attestation of the Treasurer’s Office which the county says found, "untimely and miscalculated distributions to school districts and other entities, deficiencies in balancing and reconciliation procedures and other issues." The report did not find any missing funds. The report showed that over $12.5 million in public funds had been impacted. In some cases, school districts were either severely overpaid or underpaid in property tax disbursements.
For example, the county overpaid Bellevue Public Schools by $2.3 million and overpaid Papillion – La Vista Schools by $950,000. On the other hand, the Sarpy County Treasurer underpaid Millard Public Schools by $2.4 million. Springfield-Platteview Schools underpaid by $2 million. Omaha Public Schools underpaid by $1.4 million. Gretna Schools underpaid by $720,000. The errors also impacted county and city budgets. Sarpy County was overpaid by $1.1 million. The city of Bellevue overpaid by $1.2 million. The same for the city of Papillion to the tune of $530,000 and $370,000 for the city of La Vista.
“As Commissioners, our priority is to protect Sarpy County taxpayers, so we take the State Auditor’s findings very seriously,” Sarpy County Board Chairman Don Kelly said. “The attestation identifies millions of dollars of funds incorrectly distributed to the schools, the cities and the county, which is why we’re exploring all of our options moving forward.”
Nebraska State Statute gives the Board the authority to remove the Treasurer.
In November, the Auditor’s Office released an audit of the Treasurer’s Office that cited concerns about inaccurate financial reconciliations and insufficient record keeping. In the audit, the Auditor announced plans to conduct the attestation of the Treasurer’s Office’s financial records from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2020.
The Sarpy County Treasurer’s Office is an independent office lead by Zuger, who was elected in November 2018. Though the County Board approves the Treasurer’s Office budget, Commissioners have no direct oversight over the Treasurer, the office or its activities.
Zuger issued a response Tuesday, saying: “I am deeply disappointed by the board’s decision to seek my removal from elected office. Our taxpayers put me in this position because I promised to modernize the Treasurer’s office, expand taxpayer services, and develop a culture of engaged, empowered, and high-performance employees; I am doing just that.
As early as 2019, my staff and I began evaluating all of our processes and have worked tirelessly on redesigning each and every one of them. The issues identified in the APA’s report have been going on in the Treasurer’s office long before I came to the Sarpy County Treasurer. While we have been working diligently to correct these issues, anyone who has been involved in a complete process and organizational redesign would tell you that these things take time, especially in an organization the size of Sarpy County.
While I am sorry that we were unable to catch and fix every issue we have already taken corrective action to expedite changes necessary to address the APA’s concerns. We have already made significant progress towards creating a more efficient and modern office. Employee engagement is at an all-time high and we have expanded taxpayer services, even as we climb out of the pandemic.
I am proud of the service I provide to our taxpayers and intend to continue to provide.” - Brian P. Zuger, Sarpy County Treasurer
(Photo by Sarpy County)