“Because first and foremost, stewarding every dollar matters. No one wants controversy surrounding their money. My mission is to create real value and to make a lasting, positive impact through discipline and integrity in the Treasurer’s Office.”
What does the County Treasurer Do?
The primary functions of the Madison County Treasurer’s Office are to collect real estate taxes, distribute tax revenues to the taxing districts in the county, invest and manage the county’s investment portfolio and serve as the chief cashier for other offices within county government.
This year, our office will collect more than $420 million in real estate and mobile home tax revenues to be distributed to the 225 individual taxing districts throughout the county. The districts include school districts, cities, village, townships, library districts, fire protection districts, park districts, etc. For those property owners who fail to pay their taxes, our office also conducts an annual delinquent real estate tax auction each February, as required by Illinois state law.
The Treasurer’s Office also manages the investment portfolio for Madison County Government. We invest funds ranging from Motor Fuel Tax funds, road & bridge funds, automation funds to federal grant monies. Currently, our portfolio is approximately $153 million. These funds are invested in accordance with the Illinois Public Investment Funds Act.
The Treasurer’s Office also serves as a central cashier for county government, as the other offices deposit their fees collected with our office, which we then deposit into the appropriate bank accounts. We also issue all checks to pay vendors or any other bills due by the county.
Our office works hand in hand with the offices of County Clerk, County Auditor, Board of Review, Chief County Assessor and Information Technology on a daily basis to ensure that the tax bills are correct and that the money is being appropriately collected.
So, why Chris Slusser?
My sole mission as County Treasurer is to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ money. I have a passion to do right by other people and serve them with excellence. And since I’ve been the Treasurer, I’ve put my professional expertise, people and management skills to work to do just that.
My diverse background made me a natural fit for this office. In my 15 years in the private sector, I served as a Registered Investment Advisor, a Chief Financial Officer for a Commercial Real Estate Firm, and as Vice President for one of the largest real estate developers in the St. Louis region.
Success to Build On
Since being appointed as Treasurer in December 2016, we’ve found significant savings, which has allowed us to reduce our annual budget both for fiscal year 2018 and 2019. Our budget is now 30% lower than it was 10 years ago. This year, we were able to implement a new tax payment processor, saving taxpayers more than $80,000 per year. Upon taking office, we started reviewing accounts, and discovered that the county had an unfunded pension liability dating back to 2006, in which the county was paying more than $200,000 per year in interest alone on the account. Once we received County Board approval, we were able to make a lump sum payment of the principal amount, and save taxpayers the massive amount of unnecessary interest payments that they county had been making for over a decade.
The most significant change that we’ve made, and most beneficial to the taxpayers, was to the county’s investment portfolio. Shortly after taking office, I performed a detailed analysis on the portfolio and found that the county’s portfolio was dramatically underperforming and was also greatly exposed to inflationary risk. We then worked with the County Auditor’s Office to determine the appropriate cash flow needs of the county, and then developed a laddering strategy to spread out any risk and greatly increase returns. We’re still in the process of overhauling the portfolio as previous investments mature, but so far we’ve nearly tripled the returns on the county’s investments. When I took over in 2016, the portfolio was generating about $1.2 million per year in interest, and this year, we are projecting to earn more than $3 million. Once the entire portfolio that my office inherited turns over, we’re projecting annual earnings of more than $4.5 million. What that means to taxpayers is that our county government can use that increased revenue to reduce reliance on property taxes, which means the county’s portion of your property tax bills will be lower.
We’ve had so much success in managing the county’s investment portfolio that we’re now consulting with other County Treasurers as well as many other taxing districts in the county to assist them in increasing returns on their investment portfolios as well.