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Efficiency key issue for GOP auditor hopefuls

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Offering efficient services and keeping public documents accessible to local residents are key issues for both Republican candidates for county auditor.

Republicans Jason Miller and Pam Burton are vying for their party’s nomination for the position. A Democrat or independent candidate could file to challenge the primary winner in the fall election. The candidate who wins the fall election will replace Jan Richhart, who has served in the position for eight years and cannot run for re-election due to term limits.

The county auditor oversees county finances, serves as secretary to the county council and commissioners and ensures county bills are paid, budgets are followed and back taxes are collected.

Neither Burton nor Miller has run for an elected position, but both are county employees.

Burton has worked in the auditor’s office for 20 years. Her experience working there and the relationships she’s built with the staff have prepared her to step into the position of auditor, she said. Trusting relationships with the staff are important, and she already has those, she said.

“I want them to trust me as much as I do them. And they do,” she said.

The auditor’s office is managed efficiently, Burton said. Workers encounter people who delay paying their taxes and residents who move and don’t realize they need to change their homestead deductions, and the office deals with those issues on a case-by-case basis, she said.

She currently pays most of the county’s bills, including those for buying snow-melting salt for the highway department, and monitors all taxes collected, including ones set aside in tax-increment financing districts and other property tax funds.

Miller has worked for the county since starting as a custodian in 1996 and has managed the maintenance department for seven years. He manages his department’s annual budget of approximately $1 million and is well-equipped to oversee a county department, as well as the budget of the auditor’s office, which is less than $500,000, he said.

He currently works for the county commissioners and would serve well as their secretary if elected auditor, he said.

The auditor’s office needs to be made more efficient, such as when the office gets incomplete tax exemption forms mailed in and has to pay for postage and envelopes to send them back. The county also should switch to approving bill paying with electronic signatures to save time, he said. County documents also should be made more accessible though the county website, including county rules and contracts, he said.

“I’m absolutely positive I can take over that office and run that office efficiently,” he said.

About the job

Title: Auditor

Area served: Johnson County

Duties: Serves as secretary to county commissioners and county council. Provides public notice for meetings, bids, budget rates, claims, tax sales and ordinances. Oversees county auditor’s office. Oversees tax calculations, audits of treasurer’s records and other tax issues, including tax deductions.

Term: Four years

Salary: $52,696

The Burton file

Name: Pam Burton

Age: 55

Family: Husband, James Burton; sons Joshua

Burton and Samuel Burton

Education: Edinburgh Community High School

Current job: Johnson County deputy auditor

Political experience: None

The Miller file

Name: Jason Miller

Age: 41

Family: Wife, Jessica; children, Michael and Emily, 11

Education: Franklin Community High School

Current job: Director of maintenance for Johnson County

Political experience: None

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