By Valerie Werkmeister
Newly elected Posey County Treasurer Chris Harp continues to have difficulty in securing a $300,000 bond. Posey County Commissioner President Carl Schmitz stated during their meeting yesterday morning that Harp does currently have a $100,000 bond. However, she has been unable to find an insurance company willing to bond her for the higher amount. No reason was given as to why Harp is unable to be bonded for the higher amount.
According to Indiana Code 5-4-1-9 – Time Limitation for bond, failure to comply; An officer required to give an official bond shall give the bond before the commencement of his term of office. If the officer fails to give the bond before that time, the officer may not take office.
Schmitz contended that there is a provision in the state treasurer’s association that allows counties to approve the lesser bonding amount, if that’s all she can secure.
“There is a precedence here in the state of Indiana that if she can’t be fully bonded the commissioners can vote on it and attach it to her office and approve it as such,” Schmitz stated.
“We still have two more companies that are looking at it. We need two more weeks to see if we get turned down or whatever,” he added.
Schmitz also stated that the commissioners have asked for assistance from Richard Mourdock’s office, the state treasurer’s office and the state’s attorney for county commissioners.
“We don’t want to set a precedence here in Posey County as being one that can’t fully bond their treasurer,” Schmitz said.
Commissioner Jim Alsop expressed his concern regarding the situation.
“This is an area of contention for me. The statute says she has to be bonded for $300,000. I feel like we have to protect county assets. She’s not fully bonded. I’m trying to do the right thing, the right way,” Alsop stated.
Once the treasurer is seated in office, there is little recourse for the commissioners in order to remove Harp from office. Attorney Bill Bender explained that a lawsuit must be brought against her before the commissioners can remove her. This is explained in I.C.36-2-10-3
“It’s really tough for me to sit here and allow this to continue if she’s not bonded to the fullest extent as required by law. I think Ms. Harp needs to vacate that office until that bonding is in place for the full $300,000. I think we’re putting our self at risk, our county’s assets at risk,” Alsop stated.
“My take would be we have to keep the treasurer’s office open. We have a bond for $100,000. If we asked her to step down, nobody in the office would be bonded and then we’d be in worse shape than we are now. We’re bonded for what we can get,” Schmitz stated.
“What we are doing to the best of our ability is to correct that and proceed and accomplish it the way it’s supposed to be done. I don’t see any problem with that. It’s in good faith and we’ve notified the state. We’ve done all the correct things we can do,” Commissioner Jerry Walden said.
While the treasurer’s office doesn’t have the ability to issue checks without going through the auditor’s office as a system of checks and balances, there is a potential risk for misappropriation of cash receipts that is taken in through the office.
No action was taken during the meeting.
By Valerie Werkmeister
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