The major responsibilities of the county treasurer can be summarized in the following areas:
|The receipt of funds|
|The collection of taxes|
|The disbursement of funds|
|The investment of funds|
Property taxes are a major source of revenue to local governments. Billed by the county treasurer, these taxes are distributed upon collection to the various state, school, county, city and district funds as levied.
The county treasurer also bills and collects special assessments authorized by the voters to fund improvements or to provide a specific service to property owners within a localized district.
In addition, the county treasurer acts as agent for the Washington State Department of Revenue to administer and collect the real estate excise tax on the conveyance of real property. These taxes, which help fund the state public school system and local government capital improvements, are paid by the seller as a percentage of the sale price.
Washington State law requires interest to be charged on delinquent taxes at the rate of 12% per annum, plus penalties of up to 11%. Tough collection provisions in the law direct the treasurer to seize and sell personal property when those taxes become delinquent. The statutes governing real property require the treasurer to commence foreclosure action when those taxes are delinquent for three years. To process this foreclosure action the treasurer prepares the necessary legal documents, publishes a legal notice and notifies the property owner of the pending foreclosure. If the taxes remain unpaid, a public auction is conducted and the property is sold to satisfy the outstanding tax lien.
The treasurer also conducts the sale of surplus items such as sheriff's cars and county road equipment, at public auction.
The duties of the county treasurer are many and varied, each requiring the efficient and reliable handling of public funds. With responsibilities extending beyond the scope of county operations, the county treasurer plays a key fiduciary role in the operation of local government.