Ben Beckstead

1) Tell us a little about yourself-education/pertinent work experience/family.

I grew up in Fillmore, Utah, and after serving an LDS mission to the Netherlands, I married my high school sweetheart, Meridee. I graduated from Southern Utah University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Accountancy. I worked for a CPA firm in Cedar City for 4-1/2 years, where I received extensive training and work experience in accounting, taxation, researching and applying State and Federal statutes, and assisting clients from across the country who, at times, were frustrated and angry about their tax situation. I’ve always been entrepreneurially-minded, so when an opportunity came five years ago to purchase a CPA firm in Kanab, my wife and I took the plunge and feel tremendously blessed to have come here. Along the way, we have been blessed with five wonderful daughters. We love to go explore all the beautiful scenery, trails, and back roads Kane County has to offer. We love calling Kane County our home.

2) Why are you running for treasurer?

In my profession, I am constantly reminded of the effects of government in our daily lives. I’ve sat at my desk trying to console a client who broke down and cried because of the burden paying taxes was placing on her family at that time.

I’m running for Kane County Treasurer because my education, training and work experience in accounting, auditing and taxation have given me a skill set that will assist me in increasing the professionalism and efficiency of the Treasurer’s office. I will be an influence for efficient, limited local government, thus preserving and promoting the increase of personal freedom over government intervention and largess.

As Treasurer, I will continue to be passionate about maintaining a limited and efficient government and about preserving our rural lifestyle in Kane County. Because of my education and training, I’m highly qualified for the duties of the Treasurer’s office. My experience helping small businesses in the private sector will help me make sure the Treasurer’s office is run in a professional, business-like manner.

3) Can you describe the job?

Although most people will find the following description rather boring and will probably just skip to the next question, as a Certified Public Accountant I find it rather interesting.

The Treasurer is responsible for the billing, collection, and distribution of county funds. These include revenue sources such as local real estate and personal property taxes, sales tax, fines and penalties, State and Federal government payments and grants, and charges for services like planning and zoning fees and contracted law enforcement services.

After collecting these funds, the Treasurer is responsible for the investment, cash flow management, and reconciliation of all the county’s bank accounts in accordance with the Utah State Money Management Act.

The Treasurer also works directly with Kane County residents and property owners in resolving collection concerns, and assists other county officials in budgeting and proper cash-flow management.

4) How much time should be spent on the job as Treasurer, and what office staff is needed?

In a county of our size and population, the Treasurer can fulfill their duties by working less than full time. During the slower parts of the year, only about half time is necessary. Currently, the Treasurer is paid over $57,000 plus benefits, because it is paid as a full time position. This salary should be cut in half to reflect the actual workload. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I plan on doing just that.

The Utah State Statute minimum time requirement for a County Treasurer is one day a month. I do not believe the Treasurer could faithfully execute their duties by working only one day a month, but this statute clearly indicates that the position wasn’t intended to be full time.

From my work experience I know that if you actively look for efficiencies in your workflow process, they can be found. This is especially true in government. With that said, there are certainly times when the Treasurer would need to be working hard in the office full time. For example, in the fall when property tax payments are due, and again when the yearly audit is conducted, more work would be required from the Treasurer.

Currently, the Treasurer’s Office has two full time benefitted employees, making it a total of three full time positions. With proper employee training, guidance and supervision, in addition to implementing more efficient practices, there would only need to be two full-time positions. With a part-time treasurer, this would leave a need for one full-time employee and one part-time employee to effectively manage the Treasurer’s office. The reduction from three positions to two will result in a large savings to the taxpayers. Even more savings will be realized because the part-time employee will cost much less than the reduction of half of the Treasurer’s wages. As a part-time Treasurer who will work full time during the busy season, I will also prevent the need to pay overtime or hire additional temporary staff, which has been the practice over the past several years.

5) If elected, what changes or improvements (if any) would you implement in the treasurer’s office?

I will first ensure that my personal conduct, both privately and professionally, will be above reproach and would in no way impede the reputation of the Treasurer’s office.

From 2008 to 2012, the Treasurer’s office annual expenses increased 35 percent, while county revenues during that time decreased about four percent per the audited financial statements. In comparison, the Assessor’s Office, which has a large number of employees and also handles the building department, only increased a mere three percent. Also, the Treasurer’s office requested an additional 13 percent increase in their 2014 budget in order to hire an additional full-time staff, bringing the total to three full-time positions. As a CPA who sees the direct economic and emotional effects of taxes in the lives of citizens almost daily, I’m left asking the question, how is this sustainable? How would this type of income and spending scenario work for you in your personal budget? As Treasurer, I will ensure the annual budget of the Treasurer’s Office is decreased with a reduction in office staff and my own salary as I discussed above. In future years, I will increase the budget only when absolutely necessary, and look for ways to decrease expenditures.

The Treasurer’s office will be open every business day from 8-5. You will never see a “closed for lunch” or “running errands” sign on my door, especially during the noon lunch hour and I will have extended hours on days leading up to critical payment deadlines to reduce waiting times that have existed in the past. During the times of the year when I am not in the office full time, I will have hours posted when I will invite anyone to visit with me at my private office anytime.

I will work to utilize technological advances in bank transaction processing for depositing large volumes of checks and for making certain payments. I will encourage the office staff to take on additional responsibilities and make sure employee time is used effectively. I will assist them in their duties by providing training and oversight.

We currently have a County Commission that understands the burden of taxes on the residents of our county. A few years ago, they implemented a property tax decrease, the only decrease in property taxes by any county in this state for many years. In order for them to maintain that level of taxation, or pursue additional tax decreases, they will need the support of all the elected officials, but mostly a competent and professional County Clerk and County Treasurer. As Treasurer, I will ensure they have that support. I will use my knowledge and experience to help and encourage the Commissioners to pursue additional fiscally responsible tax decreases.

I’m a husband and a father who loves his family, our country and Constitution, and the lifestyle we’re all blessed to have in Kane County. I simply want my kids to be able to love and enjoy these things in their future. I feel because of my background, the Treasurer’s office is a place where I can provide a positive influence to help achieve that goal. I would appreciate your support by voting for me on June 24. I’m open to a phone call from anyone if you have questions; my number is 435-704-1864.