Sunday, May 22, 2022
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Unable to Work with the ‘Current Board of Supervisors’, Mendocino County’s Long-Time Treasurer-Tax Collector Retires Early

Former First District Supervisor Carre Brown and Shari Schapmire in the Board of Supervisor Chambers [Pictures provided by Shari herself]

Shari Schapmire currently serves as Mendocino County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector. Serving in the elected position for the last fifteen years, and the County of Mendocino for forty, Schapmire’s knowledge of county finances is extensive. 

Schapmire’s office acts as the depository for all funds belonging to the county, including schools and special districts, while also collecting and distributing taxes.

She told us, in the face of growing issues within Mendocino County’s government, and the distinct feeling that she “cannot work with the current Board of Supervisors”, she has decided to retire on March 19, nearly nine months before her term will end. 

One of the most significant factors in her assessment of the county’s current trajectory is the ongoing process of reorganizing the County of Mendocino’s fiscal departments. As per direction from the Board of Supervisors, the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s office will be combined with the county’s Auditor-Controller. 

These offices traditionally existed as two distinct entities managed by elected officials. The Treasurer-Tax Collector manages the county’s income and the Auditor-Controller provides oversight of the county’s expenditures.

Schapmire told us the initiative to combine these offices began with the early retirement of long-time Auditor-Controller Lloyd Weir. Weir would go on to recommend the Board of Supervisors appoint long-standing Assistant Auditor-Controller Chamise Cubbison to finish Weir’s term. 

It was at this crucial juncture when Schapmire told us her relationship with the Board of Supervisors began to suffer. In early September 2021, she says she watched the Board of Supervisors run Cubbison, a long-time county employee known for her fiscal precision and eye for the questionable use of public funds, through the wringer. 

District Attorney David Eyster provided a lengthy rebuke of Cubbison’s practices during her three years as the Assistant Auditor-Controller due to disagreements that resulted from Cubbison auditing the DA’s travel expenses, reimbursements, and use of asset forfeiture funds.

The Board of Supervisors would go on to decline the appointment of Cubbison as the Interim Auditor-Controller, instead of asking her to continue her role in the office until someone permanent would be selected.

Schapmire was taken aback by the Boards of Supervisors’ resistance to Cubbison’s competence, and even more so when the talk of consolidating the Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller into a single role of office began to emerge. 

After hearing the details, Schapmire knew she was “adamantly opposed to the proposal.”

Schapmire argued that the two offices both have critical financial functions, and the delegation of those tasks to separate offices was done for a reason. “There are a lot of moving parts. If you have one person who oversees the whole thing, things will get lost in the shuffle.”

As the Board considered a significant structural shift in Mendocino County’s government, Schapmire was alarmed when only one of the Supervisors, John Haschak of the 3rd District, spoke with her about concerns of the proposed consolidation.

“The majority of the board just wanted to push this through,” Schapmire said.

In Schapmire’s estimation, these offices require significant internal experience– there are only two people that “have half a chance to succeed in leading the combined department, Chemise or me.” 

Schapmire began to actively voice her concerns to the Board of Supervisors. “I’ve been very vocal that I’ve been opposed to [the consolidation] and there are risks the board is not looking at.” 

Mendocino County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector Shari Schapmire

Knowing this consolidation will be associated with an election, Schapmire said a very real risk is the unknowability of “who is going to put their names on the ballot.” If Cubbison chooses to run or Schapmire’s assistant Treasurer-Tax Collector, the already strained workload of the departments will grow even further.

Hoping to intervene before the Board would approve the consolidation plan, Schapmire wrote a letter read to the board and was “very vocal about my opposition to it. There is a risk the board is not looking at.” 

Another facet of Schapmire’s concern of consolidating was the disruption of leadership, practice, and scope of work would “basically drop a bomb on the two offices.”

Hoping to intervene before the Board would approve the consolidation plan, Schapmire wrote a letter to the board and was “very vocal about my opposition to it.”

A major point of concern for Schapmire when examining the pending consolidation is the financial power represented within the two offices. Treasurer-Tax Collector must manage the money of the county, the schools, and special districts. Schapmire explained, “We’re the bank for the schools, the county offices. We also take in $160 million for property taxes offices.”

While the Treasurer-Tax Collector manages the county’s revenue, the Auditor-Controller supervises expenditures. When these two offices are combined, Schapmire said, “One person will be auditing their own office. You need checks and balances.”

Despite Schapmire’s public and private criticism, the Board of Supervisors approved the consolidation. 

In mid-December, the Board of Supervisors affirmed the consolidation of the two departments, with the only dissenting voice being that of John Haschak, notably the only supervisor Schapmire said spoke with her directly.

The Boards of Supervisors’ willingness to go against the perspective of one of the department heads affected by this consolidation left Schapmire “very concerned with what the board has done to me. As somebody on the inside, this is absolutely not what is best for the county.”

This disregard for her perspective, Schapmire said, is what led her to leave her term as Treasurer-Tax Collection early. “I am leaving early. After being in this office for 40 years, I cannot watch what it is going to do to staff. Also, I feel like now that this is a done deal, I need to get out of the way.”

As Schapmire stares down her retirement and the end of her forty-year career serving Mendocino County’s public, we asked her to comment on the health of the local economy, especially with the dramatic drop in cannabis prices reported by local cultivators. 

Schapmire said in the last year Mendocino County’s cannabis business tax has added $6 million to the county coffers. With rumors in the air that the State of California is considering taking over the collection of the taxes and then redistributing to counties, Schapmire expressed concern that the current boom in county income could wane. 

Many cultivators, attempting to succeed in the legal industry, have expressed frustration to Schapmire about their work to honor the regulated market is actively being undercut by a black market in the area.

Despite the potential disruption of cannabis income, Schapmire is comforted knowing that Mendocino County has other income streams including the wine, grape, and tourism industries. According to Schapmire, the county took in over $7 million in transient occupancy tax last year, a tax derived when guests stay at hotels and motels.

Reflecting on some of the highpoints of her career as the county’s Treasurer-Tax Collector, Schapmire remembered the economic meltdown of 2008. She remembered how the recession required Treasurer-Tax Collector staff to work as a team, to address the “dire situation”, and get the county “on better footing.” This was a time she described as “high functioning” amongst the staff and Schapmire said she was “proud to be a part of that.” 

The other legacy Schapmire is proud to have shaped is the Mendocino County Retirement Association saying her work put in place “a lot of positive things to get the retirement association headed in the right direction.”

Before her departure in March, Schapmire is working to leave the Treasurer-Tax collector office in a “stable place”, specifically regarding the integration of a new property tax computer system that has been problematic to implement. Mendocino County’s property tax record system was 25 years old, Schapmire said, and did not convert well to the new system. 

Schapmire’s office was an outlier in the County of Mendocino departments in that the physical office was the only one to remain open to the public throughout the totality of the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy was an outgrowth of Schapmire‘s commitment to accessibility. As a government entity designed to serve the public, Schapmire made sure that Mendocino County residents could come to the office, discuss any questions or concerns with staff, and not be required to schedule an appointment. She noted that glass partitions, masking, and social distancing was utilized to simultaneously protect the public but maintain their access.

Schapmire expressed appreciation for CEO Carmel Angelo and the recognition that as an elected official, Schapmire had the autonomy to keep the office physically available. CEO Angelo even provided the office with a security guard to guide the public in accessing Schapmire’s office.

Looking at other County of Mendocino departments and governing bodies, Schapmire is concerned “with the approach we have had” as the majority of the county’s infrastructure has been physically unavailable to the public for nearly two years. 

With Schapmire’s last day just over a month away, her Assistant Treasurer-Tax Collector Julie Forrester will take over the role if approved by the board.

Throughout her career as the Treasurer-Tax Collector, Shapmire said she had always felt respected by the Board of Supervisors who would “listen to my opinions.” Despite communicating her adamant opposition to the consolidation, the current Board of Supervisors pushed forward with the consolidation of the county’s fiscal offices which Schapmire argues removed an essential check and balance needed to protect the public’s interests.

Describing herself as being from the “old school”, Schapmire said government officials have a duty to communicate and when speaking to constituents “look them in the eye.” The current Board of Supervisors continuance of remote meetings despite public health’s allowance to move in-person creates a dynamic where “stakeholders are not being heard.”

In the wake of the Board of Supervisors’ decision, Schapmire said that despite “every intention to complete my term and go until December 2022, I am leaving now because I don’t feel like I can work with the current Board of Supervisors.”

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  1. Excellent interview. A glimpse behind the scenes of Mendocino County’s dysfunctional Board of Supervisors. Two questions: who wrote this, and does the DA now run the county?

    • Yes, did seem odd that the DA got to railroad Cubbison with the supervisors support, over legitimate questions about public funds. I emailed Mo Mulheren with some questions, since she represents my district, but she hasn’t replied…

      • She won’t reply, she doesn’t want to let you in on the truth. Eyster was asked to bring the issue to the board either by CEO or Williams and Gjerde. And since Mo votes with Williams he told her the plan.

  2. Sheri has always been a compassionate, honest, hardworking person. I worked for the disfuncional messed up County for many years and yes, the BOS really turned into a bunch of liberal boneheads, although the only one holding them up is Mo. Not sure how long she will last either. The other 3 are jackasses. So glad Sheri is getting the hell outta there. No one wants to work for the County anymore, pay sucks, liberal agendas, allow dumfucks to become supervisors of positions and they treat the employees like garbage. It’s sad really.

    • Well, according to Shari Schapmire, it was only John Haschak that talked to her about her concerns, not Mo Mulheren. It seems that Mo was asleep at the wheel on this.

      • Mo is asleep at the wheel a lot. If you have a photo op for picking up trash or the Rail Trail she wakes up. Give a an issue of importance her favorite answer “We need an Ad-Hoc Commitee.” Other than that, she votes with Ted Williams. So Ted basically has two votes for whatever liberal agenda he wants to impose.

      • You can say that again she is obviously only listening to Williams and not her district. Haschak at least has the back bone to say he won’t make a decision until he knows the facts. For the rest of these supervisors, there’s only a problem if the coast thinks one exists. Someone should ask this board if they even know what these offices do? The real issue is they simply don’t want anyone standing up to them so I guess they will be fiddling while Rome burns. And the public will be left holding the bag again.

  3. had a sign in my yard for one of them years ago when he got elected.
    won’t being doing that again, nor will he be getting my vote.
    the real acid test for me was when i asked him about him honoring the oath that he was about to take re the US constitution. that question spurred a good deal of back peddling. my mistake. never again.

  4. Total BOS stupidly to remove checks and balances on county funds and eliminate a honest 40 year employee with the guts to stand up to the DA on his money spending and the BOS on not even asking her opinion. Just stupid move! Carmel infamously eliminated and consolidated departments. Money is the most important thing to our county let’s sweep it into a pile to big for anyone to monitor clearly…sounds inept and corrupt.

    • Exactly my thoughts. Shari Schapmire said that Haschak discussed it with her, and consequently voted against it- but he was the lone vote to oppose it. Pretty lame, and yes, stupid….

  5. That’s too bad. Sheri was an asset to the county. I have had nothing but good experiences in any interaction with her. 100% understand her leaving though. The county government is a mess.

  6. To clarify, I have always planned to retire at the end of this term, I feel the only two people who have half a chance to succeed in this consolidated model are Acting Auditor Chamise Cubbison and Assistant Treasurer-Tax Collector Julie Forrester.

    When the BOS adopted consolidation I was not concerned about “me,” I was concerned about staff and our County.

    Reflecting on high points of my career, during the economic meltdown of 2008, I was proud to be part of the team (BOS, CEO, Auditor, Treasurer-Tax Collector) that successfully navigated the meltdown.

    Relating to Mendocino County Employees Retirement Assc, I was proud to be part of the Board, serving as a trustee, that helped steer the system in a positive direction.

    It has been a privilege and an honor to serve the citizens of Mendocino County. Thank you for allowing me to do that!

    • Although my taxes are too high and growing higher by the year, Shari, thank you for your work on behalf of the county and your candidness in lifting off the lid on the political spinelessness of our county board.

    • Shari you are the best! I’m am proud to have worked for you. Sorry for what the BOS have comes to that they don’t understand “checks & balances” and what will happen when they do this. Good luck and best wishes in your retirement!

  7. Our supervisors have not been a real board for over ten years.they rubber stamp orders from the CEO. They seldom study the facts of any issue. They just wait for input from others and vote accordingly. Why have them at all. We could start by cutting their salary in half.

  8. Shari Schapmire is one of the good ones. She does not have a dishonest bone in her body. This is her being 100% transparent on the situation that is occurring in our county. It saddens me that she could not finish her term like she wanted and the current board is fine with this occurring. Thank you Shari for forty years of service to our county. You will be missed dearly. Enjoy traveling and spending time with your beautiful grandchildren.

  9. Perhaps Shari Schapmire will run for a BOS position and improve the representation focused on good and sound policies for the people of Mendocino County.
    Thank you to Supervisor Haschak for listening to Shari Schapmire and listening to the people he represents.
    Mr. Haschak, a supervisor who actually listens and hears the people. How fortunate we are.

    • She has been providing good policies and listen to the voters for for 42 years, 15 as the Treasurer/Tax Collector. And you suggest she runs for BOS. She has put her time in, and now it’s time to enjoy 4 grandchildren.

  10. Update on this story, Julie Forrester, Interim Treasurerer/Tax Collector, has turned in her retirement papers for some time after May. Part of the reason, is not able to work effectively with Ms Cubbison, who now is in position to be elected as the head of both offices. She will be the only one on the ballot, she has no experience in treasury or tax collecting. Her only hope of being successful in running both offices was Forrester who will now leave after May. Ms. Cubbison must now realize that this is what the Board of Supervisors was hoping for since their original plan failed. Their hope is that Ms. Cubbison will fail and they will make her the scapegoat so they can convince the public to allow them to create a Director of Finance. In order to do this they must put it on the ballot. You see the Board wants control, they don’t like being told no. This is a message to us, the voters. We must vote out, Williams, Mulhern, McGourty and Gjerde. Haschak seems to be the only one who will listen to reason.


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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
Educator🔸Reporter for KMUD/ Redheaded Blackbelt/Founder of Cold Case Mendocino🔹Local News Junkie

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