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Q&A with treasurer/superintendent candidate Jill Betts

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | April 6, 2022 12:00 AM

The four-year term for the position of Mineral County Treasurer/Superintendent of Schools will be on the primary ballot in June.

Mary Yarnall is the current Treasure/Superintendent of Schools and will be retiring at the end of her term this year. Merry Mueller and Jill Betts are candidates for the position, and each works within the department.

The following is a Q&A with Betts.

What qualifications do you possess for Treasurer of Mineral County; explain your work experience and how it would benefit this county and its residents.

Betts: I worked for Walmart my entire adult life until deciding to move back home, and I have held many different positions with the company. I moved up quickly, taking on more challenging roles as I moved all over the US. The last position that I held for over 5 years was as a Store Manager. A Walmart Store Manager is solely responsible for a +$80 million budget, over 300 employees, profit and loss, customer satisfaction, and human resources, among other things. I feel that this experience will allow me to manage county tax dollars and motor vehicles very effectively.

Superintendent of Schools involves working with the three district school clerks, Office of Public Instruction and Missoula County (Alberton joint school district). What knowledge do you have which will assist in school finance?

Betts: I have to be honest that I do not possess any direct school finance experience. However, just like the many positions that I held at Walmart, all finances are a little different but also very similar. I am a fast learner and currently as a clerk in the Treasurer’s office, we work closely with the schools to balance financial reports and answer any questions that may have on funds and accounts. I have 2 kids in the Superior School District, so I am very committed to this part of the elected official position.

What do you see as changes which you could implement in improving the office to better serve the residents of Mineral County?

Betts: I believe there could be better communication and education for our residents about all the services that we provide. I get many calls a day where they are looking for the DMV, but were transferred here to the Treasurer’s Office. Drivers Examiner is only here on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we handle all motor vehicle transactions. Recently, they have changed drivers licensing from having to pay us in the Treasurer’s Office to customers now paying the examiner directly. Changes like that are happening all the time, and I think that information should be shared.

MCA Code which changes some aspect of your office every two years as new and revised bills get put into law. For example, how do you explain changing tax laws and tighter Montana residency requirements when customers come into your office and complain?

Betts: I think that in environment that we are currently living in change is going to be a constant. Whether that is MCA Code or changes to licensing vehicles ie. aluminum shortage, etc. It is how I handle those changes that makes all the difference. The law has no gray area, so if you want to register your vehicles here the law requires 2 proof of residency with an address that the planning department has on file. Working for Walmart customer complaints were a many times daily occurrence, and I find that explaining the why behind the no answer creates trust and understanding.

Mineral County Treasurer works closely with all county entities (fire department, cemetery districts, health department, clerk and recorder, courts, sheriff office, City of Superior and Alberton, just to name a few). Explain how taxpayers fund the county, school districts and towns?

Betts: While tax rates can change dramatically from county to county within each state, property taxes themselves are generally used to fund the following services. They can easily be referred to as the 'six s’s', schools, safety, spaces, streets, sanitation and services. Taxes that pay for schools are generally property taxes that are levied by a municipality or other local taxing authority with powers over schools. Schools are seen as a local concern and are typically funded with property values. Federal dollars that are used for school districts are usually small subsidies.

What prompted you to run for the elected position of Treasurer/Superintendent of Schools?

Betts: I have always wanted to serve the community that was so good to me growing up. I lived my entire childhood here and cannot think of a better way to use experiences to this community. I watched my Dad Ed Heppe in so many roles in this community, and I think it is my turn to serve. I have been working in the Treasurer’s office as a Tax and Title Clerk for over 2 years and I really enjoy it. I also have always enjoyed numbers and accounting procedures. I would be overjoyed and dedicated to serving this community as an elected official.

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