By David Parikh
Stanton California Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Shari L. Freidenrich spoke to the Stanton Lions Club regarding taxing issues facing the county. Ms. Freidenrich is a long time Orange County Resident with prior experience as the Huntington Beach Treasurer. She has a degree in business, is a Certified Public Accountant and has experience from the business world having worked for Deloitte & Touche and Boeing.
Freidenrich talked about the common sense business minded approach she is taking toward managing her office. She understands that in conservative Orange County, thrift is important to residents. She saved thousands of dollars by printing tax bills in just one color rather than multiple colors. And after she audited county funds, she was able to give back over $2.8 million to schools and local agencies that had been overcharged for keeping their funds with the county. She has also taken care of simple administrative issues that have bothered taxpayers for years. For instance, you can now just make your tax checks out to the County of Orange where as in the past you needed to make them out to Robert L. Citron Tax Collector. And delinquent dog licenses invoices will include the dog’s name rather than a reference number.
In her capacity as county treasurer Freidenrich helps administer billions of dollars. As with her offices budget, she also takes a conservative approach to managing money held in trust by her office. She believes that the return of principle is more important than the return on principal. She does not believe funds should be invested in exotic securities such as structured investment vehicles or derivatives.
Business owners also expressed their concerns with proposal to end Proposition 13 limits for businesses properties. They explained businesses have to pay these taxes directly or they are passed along as rent; and that the profitability of a business is not necessarily related to the market value of the property is occupies. Changes could cause many long term business to shut their doors, and thousands of employees in central Orange County to be let go. Freidenrich was sympathetic to their concerns.
She explained that Orange County is a donor county that sends property tax money to the State that the state then provides to Northern California schools. And that the county government is relatively efficient. Orange County hires only 5.6 employees per 1,000 residents compared to Los Angeles and Riverside counties that employ 10.3 people per 1,000 residents. And while the county is still saddled with debt from the bankruptcy, the county’s future is improving. Tax revenues are up, and the counties total liabilities have decreased 9% between the most recent fiscal years 2011 and 2012.