The Clark County Treasurer’s seat is empty for the second time in three months.
Ken Hawkins tendered his letter of resignation Tuesday, effective immediately. His letter cites poor technology and lack of manpower as reasons for leaving the post.
Hawkins called the computer system in the treasurer’s office “antiquated and substandard.” His letter also claims the financial services department is severely understaffed.
The departure of Hawkins leaves the county in a tough spot. Treasurers are responsible by law for settling the accounts of their office when they leave up to the end of that month. Also, no checks can be issued unless a county treasurer is in place.
A special meeting of the Clark County Fiscal Court is set for 6:30 tonight, and an interim treasurer could be named.
In September, Tina Lynn, who had served as county treasurer since July 2010, resigned from the post citing similar concerns as Hawkins, who was hired at a regular Fiscal Court meeting Sept. 12.
Lynn and Hawkins cited understaffing of the treasurer’s office as reasons for their abrupt resignations. Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said he hopes to find a way to get the position help in the future, but most of the responsibilities are dictated by law.
“The treasurer's office — a lot of people don't understand this — the office is statutorily created by the state of Kentucky. You can't do much to change it,” he said. “I've looked at many things, and I will do many different things to try to assist the treasurer's office as best I can.”
Branham said he planned to alter his own office in an effort to help the position. Previously, the judge’s office had combined the position of a finance officer and an adminstrative assistant into one job. That post is currently open, and Branham said he hoped to split the positions back into two, creating a finance officer position that could act as a liaison between the treasurer and judge’s office.
In terms of the treasurer’s software, Branham said the state allows just three different software programs and Clark County uses one of those three. The current system was put in place by Charlene Jacobs, who became county treasurer after Branham left the position to run for judge-executive.
If the future treasurer believes that technology needs to be updated, he or she would need to take the initiative to institute change, Branham said.
“It’s up to the treasurer to come up with what they want to change. They’re the ones working in that office,” he said. “They know what is specific to complete the job.”
Hawkins’ letter also cited a poor relationship with the judge-executive. His letter claims Branham gave him a “written formal confrontational manifest stating the infractions” he had violated. Hawkins said there were no words of encouragement and no effort to “build teamwork.”
The memo given to Hawkins listed just two issues, and the memo was not a disciplinary action, Branham said.
Branham also said he made numerous offers to help Hawkins and assisted him with September’s monthly statement after Lynn left in the middle of the month.
“I kept telling him if he needed help to let me know,” Branham said. “He has my cell phone number. I'll stay late with you. Let me know when to schedule it and I will help.”
When Lynn resigned in September, she also claimed to have a contentious relationship with the judge.
“I am in a position of ‘killing the messenger,’” Branham said in September. “I have to bring the message and therefore the tension is created.”
Branham said he would like to see the next treasurer spend time in the county’s system and understand how it works prior to taking the position. He expressed reservations about putting someone from outside directly into the position.
“In Kentucky counties, the county treasurer is the most important position in county government,” Branham said. “That includes the judge-executive. The treasure is basically the chief financial officer.”
Contact Casey Castle at email@example.com.