Sarpy County board votes to remove Treasurer from office

(Sarpy County, NE) -- The Sarpy County Board of Commissioners unanimously votes to remove the county treasurer from office.

Tuesday afternoon, the board voted 5-0 to remove Brian Zuger from office after they say he misappropriated funds for county school districts. The board’s vote came at the close of an administrative hearing, which was called after a Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts reported numerous deficiencies in the Treasurer’s Office.

“It was clear from the evidence presented that the circumstances warranted removal,” Sarpy County Board Chairman Don Kelly said.

The Treasurer’s removal is effective immediately. The Board appointed Tracy Jones to serve as Interim Sarpy County Treasurer. The Board now has 45 days to select a permanent replacement, who will serve the remainder of Zuger’s term, which ends in January 2023.

“The Board is confident in Tracy’s ability to manage both the Treasurer’s Office financial operations and the staff, and our search for a qualified candidate to complete the Treasurer’s term will begin immediately,” Kelly said.

In April 2020, the State Auditor began an initial investigation of the Treasurer’s office. In November, the Auditor released an audit of the Treasurer’s Office that cited significant and specific concerns about inaccurate financial reconciliations and insufficient record keeping.

In January and February, the auditor analyzed the Treasurer’s financial records from July 1st to December 31st, 2020. The auditor reported 14 deficiencies, including miscalculated tax distributions to school districts and other entities, discrepancies in balancing and reconciliation procedures, among other issues. Neither the audit did not find any missing County funds. All of the deficiencies cited centered around distributions, reconciliation and reporting.

Nebraska Statutes give the County Board the authority and responsibility to remove the Treasurer if the office holder, “neglects or refuses to render any account or settlement required by law” or “fails or neglects to account for any balance due the state, county, township, school district, or any other municipal subdivision, or is guilty of other misconduct in office.”

The Board found that several of the deficiencies cited in the State Auditor’s attestation warranted the Treasurer’s removal, including, but not limited to:

  • Millions of dollars of OPPD PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) funds incorrectly distributed to local school districts, the five Sarpy cities and the county; and
  • Failure to properly and timely distribute Motor Vehicle Pro-Rate commission to political subdivisions within Sarpy County;

The County Treasurer is a separate and autonomous elected official. Though the County Board approves the Treasurer’s Office budget, Commissioners have no direct oversight over the Treasurer, the office or its activities.

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