The Huntington Beach City Council has changed the role of the city treasurer to save an estimated $100,000 annually, although the outgoing treasurer has voiced issues with the plan.
The council voted unanimously Monday to change the city treasurer’s position, an elected post, to part-time and move many of the position’s duties not specifically outlined in the City Charter to the Finance Department.
The change will lower the treasurer’s base salary to $48,000 to save more than $100,000 a year, said Deputy City Administrator Paul Emery.
Outgoing Treasurer Shari Freidenrich was making nearly $152,000 a year, as well as a $6,000 auto allowance and about $26,000 in benefits, according to public documents.
The change comes as Freidenrich leaves her post Jan. 4 after being elected county treasurer-tax collector.
“We really took the opportunity to really look at the city treasurer operation,” City Manager Fred Wilson said.
Freidenrich has been with the city for the 15 years and was elected to serve until 2012.
The council appointed Deputy City Administrator Bob Hall as the acting city treasurer until a replacement can be found. Although the position is elected, the city will advertise for it and forward qualified applicants to the City Council, Wilson said.
The council will hold interviews in public before making an appointment, said City Atty. Jennifer McGrath.
The Finance Department will become responsible for banking, payments, cash flow monitoring and revenue, fee and account collection, according to public documents.
Freidenrich told the council she was concerned that some of the responsibilities would slip through the cracks or wouldn’t be able to get done under the new structure.
“In these times of fiscal challenges, especially with the recent problems with other cities, it is more important than ever to keep checks and balances to protect public funds,” she said. “The city treasurer’s department is an important check and balance for the citizens of Huntington Beach who have continually voted more than six or seven times to keep that position full-time.”
Wilson, though, assured the council he has done this before in another city and was confident it will be successful.
“Everything [Freidenrich] has talked about should get done and will get done with the right person in that position, and I’m confident with our new finance director, we can absolutely cover the duties [Freidenrich] talked about this evening,” he said.
Three of the newly elected council members also announced some of their board appointments.
Councilman Joe Shaw has reappointed Blair Farley to the Planning Commission and tapped former Mayor Debbie Cook for the Public Works Commission and Gerald Chapman to the Finance Board.
Shaw also announced Councilwoman Connie Boardman appointed community activist Mark Bixby to the Planning Commission. Boardman was absent from the meeting.
Mayor Joe Carchio announced he appointed Tim Ryan to the Planning Commission.
Councilman Matthew Harper didn’t announce any appointments.