New county treasurer reorganizes, fires seven

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New county treasurer reorganizes, fires seven

By KYLE PETERSON kpeterson@beaufortgazette.com 843-706-8147
Published Saturday, July 16, 2011   |  465 Words  |  

Since taking office July 1, Beaufort County Treasurer Doug Henderson has fired seven employees from a staff of less than two dozen.

Four will be replaced; the other three positions will remain permanently vacant, Henderson said last week.

Two new deputy treasurers have been hired -- one to manage tax collection; the other, a certified public accountant, to serve as the department's chief financial officer.

Seven employees now answer phone inquiries that were once handled by a three-person call center.

"I'm pleased so far," Henderson said of his transition into office. "We've reorganized. We've reduced staff. We've done some things differently."

More changes could be in store.

"We're still feeling our way through the process of making sure we're doing things more effectively and more efficiently," he said. "We're going to look at every angle, every procedure, every process in this office."

Henderson has made it clear he wants to improve the service taxpayers receive.

"I can tell you that Mr. Henderson's goal is to be responsive to the customer," said deputy treasurer Troy Hodges, who was hired early, in February, to assist with the transition.

The staff is working on a system that will allow the Treasurer's Office to issue license-plate decals directly once vehicle taxes are paid. Previously, taxpayers had to wait for the Department of Motor Vehicles to send the stickers by mail.

"About half the counties in South Carolina do issue the decals once the customer pays the fee," Hodges said. "So we just thought that would be something that would be a win-win for us and the customer."

Hodges said there are a few issues still to resolve, but he hopes the department can begin handing out decals within the next several months.

Henderson said he found many surprises upon taking office.

For instance, he said the county still owes hundreds of people tax refunds -- some dating to January -- that his staff is working to resolve.

"I thought that the refunds were pretty much up to date, and I discovered that was not the case," Henderson said. "I know that these people have been waiting for some time, and it's not fair to them."

Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.

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