The Star Democrat

LONG TERM FINANCIAL EXPERTS TO RETIRE

- BY TOM MCCALL tmccall@chespub.com

DENTON — Yin and yang. Taking money in and putting it out. Taxes collected and checks cut to support the county. Two women have been working in harmony for over 20 years to manage the inflow and outflow of the county’s finances. Caroline County’s budget is $58 million so it is no small responsibi­lity. With their offices literally feet away from each other at the Circuit Courthouse in Denton, they will end their tenures together at the end of the year.

Catherine P. Moore, Comptrolle­r of Caroline County Tax Office and Margaret C. Roe, Director of Finance for Caroline County Commission­ers have an easy rapport with each other.

“I hired Margaret,” said Moore with a laugh. They nabbed Roe from the defunct Preston Trucking and then she worked for Tri-Gas oil.

“I take the money in and she puts it out. Taking it in is more fun,” said Moore.

The tools of their trade are computer, telephone, paper, pencil and calculator. The calculator on Roe’s desk looks like Darth Vader — lots of buttons and very black. The ones supplied weren’t functional enough. So they bought their own.

“But the most important thing we have is our people. We couldn’t do our jobs without them. They handle most of the phone calls and the people at the counter,” said Moore.

Their two offices employ seven people. “People think we just sit here and wait for people to pay taxes. But we take in recordatio­n, we take in online payments that are made for the state of Maryland. If Parks and Rec collects money, it all comes over here. You do different things every day, because different things happen and it keeps you interested. Plus I get to help people. People say, ‘Oh, you sell people’s homes at tax sale. You must be a horrible person.’ But what we really try to do is help them get like a homeowner credit if they are qualified. To try and figure out how not to get sold at tax sale. And that makes you feel good. It makes up for the ones you can’t help,” said Moore.

Roe spoke up about what is fun about her job.

“The budget is interestin­g with all the department­s and agencies that you meet. All of their needs and wants and what is really a necessity and what they think is a necessity. It makes it interestin­g,” said Roe.

“We gather all the informatio­n in the finance department and put it together for the commission­ers. They make the final decision.We start with a high number that is everybody’s dream and then we work it down to reality. They pick and choose,” said Roe.

Roe noted that contact with the community versus contact with agencies is different between the two department­s.

“Their office, they get to meet the customers, who come in to pay their taxes. They have more interactio­n with the public than we do. That is good and bad. And then we have a lot of interactio­n with all the department­s and all the agencies because their budgets come through us.We pay the bills for them and all the vendors. Generally we work under the County Administra­tor Jeremy Goldman,” said Roe.

So with all this money swirling around the question of influence comes up. Can their budgets be swayed by a vocal entity?

Moore said, “Not lobbyists. What you have is like Parks and Rec will have a board, the Sheriff’s office. You have people who will lobby for a department. For example, when the economy went all crazy and we had to cut to the bone, the library had a huge bunch of people who got up at the public meeting and spoke about how important it was for them. This library here in Denton, Greensboro and Federalsbu­rg.”

She gave another example where civic engagement played a role in decision making.

“When they wanted to add the athletic building on to Chesapeake College, we were just chock full of nurses popping up. So not lobbyists, but groups of people who have a particular department that they will advocate for,” said Moore.

“It affects the money that they get. When the people talk, the commission­ers tend to listen,” said Roe.

They made it clear that the fiscal flow is not their decision. It is the commission­ers’.Their job is to put it on the paper and make sure it all balances out by June 30.They said that they really try to stay on top of it month by month. Looking over decades of work, they reflected on their most proud accomplish­ments.

“I think getting our pension to 97% funded. That took the commission­ers to agree to put that money in. We are almost fully funded. You won’t find that hardly anywhere. If you are fully funded, it means if the county went out of business tomorrow, the employees would be funded up to where they are in the pension.The state of Maryland is only 74% funded. So we are way ahead of the curve,” Moore said.

Roe said she was proud of the pension too and had another aspect of their work to highlight.

“We have won the certificat­e of achievemen­t for excellent reporting for the GFOA (Government Finances Officers Associatio­n) for 16 years. We have the plaques out there on the wall to show.We go through a lot of hoops with our audit each year,” said Roe.

Moore further described what is involved with this honor.

“It basically says that when we do our financial statements, that they are presented in a profession­al manner. Without any errors and that extra stuff like statistica­l data that doesn’t have to be there, but is added to give a more complete picture. We are super accurate. My taxes are to the penny,” said Moore.

“We are timely here. We pay invoices as we get them. We don’t hold them. We process them every week.We try to stay on top of it,” said Roe.

That affects a myriad of entities like the Humane Society, The Board of Education or the Caroline County Library among many others.

“What we do is like a huge puzzle. You have money coming in online, you have money coming in from credit cards — all these different places. It all goes into the bank and you have to make all the figures come out in the end. So the Town of Denton gets paid the right amount. All that goes to Margaret and she has a general ledger posting and all that stuff again has to come out to what is actually in the bank. All these pieces have to integrate and come out. It’s fun. It is very rewarding and it is all perfect,” said Moore.

Daniel Fox, Deputy Supervisor of Finance will be taking Roe’s position when she retires. The two department­s will be merged into one. On the tax side Nicole Moczulski will take over the printing of the bills.

Retirement plans for these two definitely involved family and grandchild­ren. Moore said she will approach her funeral director husband about retiring. Then they can visit their son and grandson in Africa. Roe said there were no special plans beyond enjoying life, spending time with her three grandchild­ren.

Both said they will take their calculator­s with them.

 ?? PHOTO BY TOM MCCALL ?? Left, Accounting assistant Nicole Moczulski, Deputy Director of Finance Daniel Fox, Comptrolle­r Catherine P. Moore, Director of Finance Margaret C. Roe, grant coordinato­r Stacy Seward, and accountant clerk Mindy Nashold. Roe and Moore are retiring and they have trained Fox to take over for a smooth transition. The two offices are slated to merge.
PHOTO BY TOM MCCALL Left, Accounting assistant Nicole Moczulski, Deputy Director of Finance Daniel Fox, Comptrolle­r Catherine P. Moore, Director of Finance Margaret C. Roe, grant coordinato­r Stacy Seward, and accountant clerk Mindy Nashold. Roe and Moore are retiring and they have trained Fox to take over for a smooth transition. The two offices are slated to merge.

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