Texas voters approve dissolving Galveston County’s treasurer’s office


Texas voters decided to allow Galveston County to get rid of its treasurer’s office last week, making it the 10th county in Texas to operate without such an office.

Approaching the end of his time in office, Galveston County Treasurer Hank Dugie expressed no qualms about losing his job. The 34-year-old Republican elected last year had actively campaigned for the position on a platform advocating for the elimination of the four-year office, which he said was a challenging effort to get on the statewide ballot.

With the office set to sunset on New Year’s Day, Dugie’s initiatives are projected to save about $450,000 annually for county residents, as reported by the county official. Dugie said the county can put the money saved by reducing staff and transitioning the remaining employees to the county clerk’s office toward alternative investments and cutting taxes.

The office is being run by a staff of three, down from the original seven. Dugie said that he declined the position’s $117,260 salary.

After kicking off his campaign in 2022, Dugie said his call to remove the office stemmed from the county’s past struggle with an absent treasurer, referring to his predecessor Kevin Walsh, who had served as the Galveston County Treasurer since 2002.

“I served on the Lake City Council and from being involved in local government, I saw the financial issues and that we had some absent elected officials,” Dugie said. “The previous treasurer was showing up one time per month for about two hours and collecting six figures.”

While voters approved eliminating the office, Dugie’s efforts drew criticism from some treasurers in neighboring counties.

Burnet County Treasurer Karrie Crownover disagreed with the idea, saying that the elimination of the office establishes a “dangerous precedent.”

“You’re removing an elected office that the people have elected that individual to serve in. And by removing that office, you’re giving the people less voice,” Crownover said. “If you start abolishing offices, which office, which county is going to be next?”

Crownover argues that the removal of the office will, instead, increase costs for taxpayers. Outsourcing employees to fulfill the responsibilities of the treasurer’s office will cost more, she said. Burnet County sits to the northwest of Austin in the Texas Hill Country.

Dugie defended his call to cut the office and said that many of those tasks will still be carried out by the remaining employees and that the remaining tasks will go to other county workers.

“The only opposition we’ve had, has been from other county treasurers around the state who are worried that their gravy trains are next,” Dugie said.

Dugie added that he’s not suggesting other counties should follow Galveston.

“We’ve had an absent treasurer for at least 30 years, and this only impacts our county. If other counties want to do this, they have to go through the same arduous process we did,” he said.

Bexar County, home to San Antonio, was the most recent to eliminate the treasurer’s office. The County Clerk’s office absorbed the treasurer’s office responsibilities in 1983.

The difficulty in eliminating the office is consolidating its functions and redistributing its tasks, said Reno Madrigal, the chief of the treasury and judicial courts division in Bexar County.

“But we’re not hurting for a county treasurer,” Madrigal said. “The county clerk’s office works very well with the county auditor, works very well with the budget and finance office. I think we got it down now without an elected treasurer for almost about 30 years. I think we’ll be okay going forward.”

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