Shirley Allison starts every workday with the same routine task.
“I have to make sure everything from the day before balances,” Allison said.
As Polk County treasurer, Allison oversees the county’s finances, acting as a custodian of its money, according to a set of guidelines offered by the Missouri County Treasurers Association.
“The primary task is careful accounting of revenues and expenditures and allocation of each to the proper fund,” the guidelines state. “The treasurer fulfills administrative and executive duties for the county and exercises oversight and caretaker roles in regard to county funds.”
And for Allison, that careful oversight starts in the morning, looking back over the previous day’s financial statements to check her own work.
“I was in banking for 35 years,” Allison said. “You always double check.”
The funds Allison looks over come from all of the county’s offices and could total as much as $7 million, she said.
The county offices are required to bring in the fees collected, which Allison then takes to the bank.
“The treasurer really is intertwined with each office,” she said.
And the law requires transparency in the process, with State Statute 54.130 specifying the treasurer must present information on the county’s finances to the commission.
“As often and in such manner as may be required by the commission, (the treasurer) shall furnish an account of the receipts and expenditures of the county,” statute states.
In some cases, Allison said, the collected funds go back out the door in the form of disbursements.
After being collected by Polk County Collector Debbi McGinnis, Allison said, some tax revenues are slated for schools or special road districts.
“You make sure it’s paid,” Allison said.
State statute 54.160 outlines that responsibility.
“The county treasurer in each county is the custodian of all moneys for school purposes, belonging to the different districts, until paid out …,” the statute states.
It’s just one way Allison said she’s reminded that, ultimately, she works for the voters.
“The taxpayers are your boss,” she said. “They want to know that you’re taking good care of your money.”
It’s a job Allison said she treasures, adding that working in the courthouse is a good experience. She said her colleagues, the county’s other elected officials, have been helpful as she works through her first year in office.
“If I don’t understand something, the other office holders have been here longer than I have, and I go draw from their knowledge,” she said.
Allison was elected for a four-year term in 2018 after winning the August Republican primary election and facing no opponent in the general election. She took office in January 2019.
The position pays a $45,000 annual salary. Allison said she sees herself running again for the office.
“I really love working in the courthouse, and I love to work with numbers,” she said.