The Sarpy County Board of Commissioners today voted 5-0 to remove Treasurer Brian Zuger from office. The board’s vote came at the close of an administrative hearing the Board initiated after a Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts attestation cited numerous deficiencies in the Treasurer’s Office.
“It was clear from the evidence presented that the circumstances warranted removal,” Sarpy County Board Chairman Don Kelly said.
The Treasurer’s removal is self-executing and effective immediately. The Board appointed Tracy Jones to serve as Interim Sarpy County Treasurer. The Board now has 45 days to select a permanent replacement, who will serve the remainder of Zuger’s term, which ends in January 2023.
“The Board is confident in Tracy’s ability to manage both the Treasurer’s Office financial operations and the staff, and our search for a qualified candidate to complete the Treasurer’s term will begin immediately,” Kelly said.
In April 2020, the State Auditor began an initial investigation of the Treasurer’s office. In November, the Auditor released an audit of the Treasurer’s Office that cited significant and specific concerns about inaccurate financial reconciliations and insufficient recordkeeping.
In January and February, the Auditor conducted a full attestation, which analyzed the Treasurer’s financial records from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, and the office’s compliance with statutory obligations. The attestation reported 14 deficiencies, including untimely and miscalculated tax distributions to school districts and other entities, deficiencies in balancing and reconciliation procedures, and numerous other issues. Neither the audit nor the attestation reported any missing County funds. All of the deficiencies cited centered around distributions, reconciliation and reporting.
Nebraska Revised Statutes § 23-103 and 23-1603 charge the County Board with the authority and responsibility to remove the Treasurer if the office holder “neglects or refuses to render any account or settlement required by law” or “fails or neglects to account for any balance due the state, county, township, school district, or any other municipal subdivision, or is guilty of other misconduct in office.”
The Board found that several of the deficiencies cited in the State Auditor’s attestation warranted the Treasurer’s removal, including, but not limited to:
- millions of dollars of OPPD PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) funds incorrectly distributed to local school districts, the five Sarpy cities and the county; and
- failure to properly and timely distribute Motor Vehicle Pro-Rate commission to political subdivisions within Sarpy County;
The County Treasurer is a separate and autonomous elected official. Though the County Board approves the Treasurer’s Office budget, Commissioners have no direct oversight over the Treasurer, the office or its activities.
The Treasurer’s Office is separate from the Sarpy County Fiscal & Budget Office, which is overseen by the County Board and is responsible for the county’s yearly budget and financial reporting. An independent audit of the Fiscal & Budget Office’s financial statements for the 2020 fiscal year found that the county remains financially sound.