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ORANGE COUNTY IN BANKRUPTCY : Moorlach Details Plans for 100-Day Make-Over of Office

March 23, 1995|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Newly appointed Treasurer-Tax Collector John M.W. Moorlach met for the first time Wednesday with the Treasurer Oversight Committee designed to watch over his work and released a 100-day plan he says will help restore the county's tarnished image.

Among his goals:

* To draft a new investment policy statement by next Wednesday that stresses the safety, liquidity and yield of investments.

* To think about expanding the oversight committee by April 12 to include "more eyes and more brains for free."

* To consider making the county's investment portfolio available on the Bloomberg financial news wire so the public has open access to it.

"I'm into goals and dates. It's accountability time," Moorlach said after the three-hour meeting. "I want to get everything together so, by July 1, we're one of the most awesome treasury departments in the state, and I want to do it at less cost."

The Board of Supervisors appointed the five-member oversight committee, made up of members of the business community, to avert a repeat of the fiscal collapse caused by longtime Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert L. Citron's investment policies.

While the group has met three times before, this was first time the committee met with Moorlach, who was appointed treasurer last Friday.

Committee members praised Moorlach's enthusiasm and his 100-day plan, which slaps a target date on many of the goals he has previously said he hopes to achieve while in office.

"It went very well," said Jeffrey M. Thomas, the committee's chairman and vice president of Van Kampen Merritt Management Inc. in Laguna Beach.

"John's real bright. For someone who's been in office for three days, he's got a very good grasp on what's going on," Thomas said. "Within 100 days, we can have a brand new treasurer's department, or at least the makings of one."

The committee on Wednesday discussed the option of contracting with a private consultant to draft the county's new investment policy, but opted against it, Moorlach said. According to Moorlach's plans, the committee will have a first draft prepared for review by Wednesday and approved by May 3.

Moorlach added that he wants a national firm to certify the policy.

Moorlach's 100-day plan also outlines a goal to soon begin providing monthly financial statements of the county treasury, and to report the market value of the county's investments in the interest of full disclosure.

The law does not require that public entities report the market value of investments, but the county's Dec. 6 bankruptcy filing has prompted cries for reform and Moorlach has vowed to mark the portfolio to market monthly.

The plan also calls for detailed job descriptions outlining the duties of the treasurer, the assistant treasurer, assistant tax collector and other office personnel to be drafted and approved between now and May; and calls for a response to an Arthur Andersen & Co. report on the internal weaknesses in the treasurer's office.

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