Corrie Forsling (D) – Summit County Treasurer
Corrie Forsling (Democrat)
Summit County Treasurer
Question 1: What are your qualifications to run for county treasurer and why do you want to serve?
My Master’s in business, my relevant career experience, and my proven track record as treasurer qualify me as the best candidate for Summit County Treasurer.
Given the upcoming 6-year term, the adjective "proven" is critical. My time as treasurer has been transformative. I’ve ushered in new technologies and procedures that have significantly increased service and efficiency. This year the National Association of Counties honored me with a 2014 Achievement Award for our Tax Notice Email program. Even so, my focus is on continuous improvement; I am currently in the process of streamlining online bill payments from taxpayers. The transformation continues.
My education and experience also point to me as the most qualified candidate. With over $120 million in assets to manage at given times of the year, stellar qualifications are required. I’ve earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Penn State, and a B.S. in Management from Ithaca College. My 22-year accounting/management career, as staff accountant, comptroller, small business owner, and current county treasurer, makes me the ideal candidate for the Treasurer’s Office.
It has been my honor and pleasure to work with the citizens of Summit County, and I hope to have the opportunity to continue to serve.
Question 2: The state just changed the term length for this office in order to stagger county elections in the future. Was that a good or bad idea and are you prepared to make a 6-year commitment to the job?
I am 100 percent prepared to continue my full-time commitment to the citizens of Summit County for the next six years.
Some may question the wisdom of the Utah Legislature in moving three offices (Recorder, Assessor, Treasurer) to the presidential election year starting in 2020. The Legislature’s goal was to avoid an election in which all county offices change hands creating a management vacuum. This seems an unlikely scenario, but I understand the Legislature’s responsibility to prepare for the unforeseen.
A more interesting question might be, "To whom should the citizens make their 6-year commitment?" Should it be to the current Treasurer, who has established a proven track record of success? Who has transformed the office into a model of efficiency, and offered innovative services to the taxpayers, all while saving over $18,000 annually? My supporters, the majority of the County Council and county elected officials, reply a resounding "yes."
Question 3: Does the county have enough money in reserve to handle an unforeseen crisis and if not what changes would you recommend?
Summit County is fortunate that a past County Commission established a "rainy day" fund, legally known as the Tax Stability Fund. This fund has since risen to over $10 million.
Is $10 million enough? It certainly is more than most other counties have in reserve. In combination with our insurance coverage structure, I believe it is sufficient. As Treasurer, I take two actions to preserve the integrity of this fund. I invest the funds wisely within Utah’s strict legal requirements, usually in agency bonds and corporate bond issues with laddered maturities to maintain liquidity. I’ve achieved returns in excess of 1.2% on Tax Stability funds, far greater than the 0.2%-0.5% offered by banks and the Utah State Treasurer’s fund. Secondly, in my role on the budget committee, I encourage the County Council to continue making annual contributions to the Tax Stability Fund. We must continue to prepare for rainy days.
Question 4: Do you think taxpayer understand their tax bills and the process for ensuring they are accurate – what can you do to help make that process more transparent?
State requirements can make the annual tax bill seem complicated, but as Treasurer, I have overhauled the tax bill to make it significantly clearer for the taxpayer. I’ve added step-by-step payment instructions, included past-due tax amounts, and reformatted the bill with larger fonts and less clutter to help the reader find key information. This year I’ve clarified the taxing entity names to eliminate confusing abbreviations; for example, "State Assessing & Collecting Levy" replaces "Multi County A&C. "
The accuracy of the billing data, however, depends on the Assessor and the Auditor. The Assessor determines property values, and the Auditor uses those values to determine the tax rates. The Treasurer’s legal role is to bill the taxes based on the information they provide. Since the budget is the core element of the property tax amount, attending public budget meetings is a useful way to learn about how property taxes are determined.
Question 5: The county’s tax rate is based, in part, on the previous year’s collection rate. Do you have any suggestions about how to improve collections so taxpayers in good standing are not penalized for those who do not pay on time?
The window to collect current property taxes is limited by state law to November and December. We have until Dec. 31, after which taxes are declared delinquent. Efforts to collect taxes after December 31st have no impact on the current year collection rate.
As Treasurer, I’ve successfully increased the collection rate from 91.8 percent in 2010 to 93.5 percent in 2013. It is critical that taxpayers receive their bills and have sufficient time to pay. To accomplish this, my office annually verifies mailing addresses and cleans the database. My national award-winning Tax Notice Email program sends the tax bill to the property owner electronically. Online payment options have become easier, more flexible, and less expensive. Finally, to those who miss the Nov. 30 deadline, we mail an urgent postcard reminder in December to encourage payment by Dec. 31. Protecting taxpayers is always my first priority.
Question 6: Please differentiate your platform from your opponent’s.
First, my platform promises to invest funds safely while promoting growth. My opponent supports local bank deposits. But beware — investing in local bank accounts sacrifices ¾ of the potential investment income, and allows the value of county funds to decrease as growth lags behind inflation. My opponent’s position exposes her lack of understanding of today’s investing environment.
Second, my platform addresses the actual legal responsibilities of the Treasurer’s Office, while my opponent makes promises about functions performed by other elected officials. The primary function of the treasurer is property-tax collection, yet this goes unmentioned on my opponent’s website. There are references to budgets and expenses (Auditor responsibility), abatements (Auditor again), and primary home exemptions (Assessor).
Finally, education and relevant experience are critical to the treasurer’s success. As the only candidate with a graduate degree (MBA), my education is a significant difference with my opponent. Similarly my career experience gives me far better qualifications for Treasurer than my opponent. My experience as Summit County Treasurer and my career in accounting and small business ownership uniquely prepare me to continue serving as treasurer. I am the best-qualified candidate, and I ask for your support in November.
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The Summit County unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, the state Department of Workforce Services reported.