Erick Roeser, Sonoma County’s new financial chief, has a quarter century of experience in local government, but little in his work history compares to the past two years in the wake of the devastating North Bay fires of 2017.
Roeser, 52, who’ll be sworn in as auditor-controller-treasurer-tax collector Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting, was part of a team that helped secure more than $35 million over two fiscal years from the state to backfill fire-related property tax losses for the county, municipalities, schools and special districts.
Preliminary estimates of the property tax hit for the upcoming fiscal year are on the order of an economic downturn — a loss about $20.6 million, including a $5.6 million hit to the county. A reimbursement isn’t guaranteed from the state.
Roeser is matter- of- fact about the daunting outlook.
“There will be some financial challenges facing the county,” he said. “The impacts from the wildfires are contributing to the fiscal challenges the county is facing, both from the lost property taxes and the recovery effort.”
Roeser was appointed in 2017 by Sonoma County supervisors to fill the remaining term of Donna Dunk, the retiring auditor-controller-treasurer-tax collector. He was elected to a four-year term in the county’s consolidated chief financial post after running uncontested for the job in June.
The Southern California native has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting from Sonoma State University.
He’s played a role in the office’s senior management since 2007, overseeing multiple divisions, including general accounting and property tax accounting.
The auditor-controller-treasurer-tax-collector job encompasses a broad swath of financial and administrative duties, including preparing financial statements, collecting and apportioning $1.1 billion in property taxes; managing the county’s $2.4 billion treasury; sitting on the board of the county’s pension system; and overseeing the issuance of bonds and audits of local government departments and accounting practices for the county’s $1.7 billion budget.
“My priorities are ... to help in any way possible to figure out how to best address the challenges the county is going to have and to ensure the county continues to be in compliance with the ever-changing accounting reporting requirements and to ensure that we have strong controls in place to detect things like fraud, waste and abuse,” he said.
Roeser said he takes a hands-on approach to leading the department, which has more than 100 employees.
“I love the organization and the people that I work with,” the Santa Rosa resident said. “I’ve been the auditor’s office for 17 years and I have a strong commitment to the county and the community.”
He’ll take the oath office Tuesday along with a slate of other elected officials set to helm county government over next four years, including incumbent supervisors David Rabbitt and James Gore, District Attorney Jill Ravitch, incoming Clerk-Recorder-Assessor and Registrar of Voters Deva Proto and Sheriff Mark Essick.
Roeser’s annual base salary is $228,038, according to the county’s payroll manager.