While Tina Groening is very familiar with the work the County Treasurer does since she has worked under the position for nine and a half years, she is aware that taking on the actual position is a huge responsibility and does not take it lightly.
“I just really don’t want to let anyone down,” said Groening. “We take in all of the county’s monies, get them receipted, get them put into the accounts that they need to be placed into. We are the caretakers of all of the funds and it’s a big deal. It’s a big job. We take that very seriously.”
The former Marion County Treasurer, Susan Berg, was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 13 due to cancer. Eventually she was moved to hospice and on Oct. 4, she lost her battle with cancer.
Because Berg was a Republican serving in the role, the treasurer vacancy needed to be filled by a registered Republican.
“So at that point the Republican Party had to hold a convention and names be brought forth for someone to fill in that interim position. And I said that I was willing to do this. You have to secure a nomination and a second at the Republican Convention. And I did that,” said Groening.
The Marion County Republican Party held the convention on Thursday, Oct. 26 at the Marion County Lake Hall to elect a qualified individual to be appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy to the office of Marion County Treasurer. They elected Groening and submitted her name to Governor Kelly for her to hold the office of Marion County Treasurer for the remainder of the unexpired term which runs through the second Tuesday in October 2025.
“Something to note about the interim position is that we actually serve until October of 2025 because the next election for treasurer will happen in November of 2024,” said Groening. “Whoever’s elected in November of 2024 doesn’t take office until the following October of 2025. So this interim position is until October of 2025.”
Groening explained that the reason for that is because when the election happens in November of 2024 the treasurer at that time (Groening) still has to certify that last year’s tax role. So Groening has to continue serving as treasurer until she can sign off on that year’s tax role in the following October.
“The treasurer’s position is unique in that they don’t take office in January like everyone else. They take office the following October,” said Groening.
Groening explains that there are three main jobs in the Treasurer’s office: vehicle, driver’s license and tax. Since she began working there nine and a half years ago, her primary focus has been tax.
“Usually when you start, you learn all of the day-to-day things that you need to take care of customers. But each person generally has a kind of focus. Thankfully since the get-go, I’ve been taught the tax side of things. So that’s really helped since you deal mostly with taxes as treasurer,” said Groening.
Groening has been serving as Deputy Treasurer One since February.
“There were two of us. Susan, when she was treasurer, chose to have two deputies,” said Groening.
While Groening knows she has more to learn, she feels prepared for this new role thanks to the women who came before her.
“I give all of the thanks and the credit to Susan Berg and Kathy Swan, who was a deputy up until February when she retired. And I learned so much from Jeannine Bateman while she was treasurer. She taught us just so much. They taught us what we needed to know to keep the office running,” said Groening.
She credits her staff as well.
“We’ve got a great staff. I mean, the staff there is top-notch. They just are capable and smart and helpful and they can do the work. So it’s got a good support staff for sure,” she said. “We understand the importance of what we do and we’re gonna continue taking care of people. We’re gonna take care of our customers. We’re gonna take care of the county. We’re gonna take care of all of our entities.”
Groening knows there may be some rough patches with the transition, but she and her office staff plan to do their best to get the job done.
“We’re gonna continue to do the job of the office even though we’re having some changes in our office. It’s okay. We’re gonna continue to do the work,” said Groening. “I want people to know that they’re not without a treasurer.”
She also knows that not everyone enjoys coming to her department, but she wants people to know how important it all is.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand when they come to see us they’re doing something that’s not really fun, but it is important. They’re usually paying money that’s not really fun for people. But I think a lot of people don’t understand that we are the caretaker of those funds. So we take in the funds that they give us and we distribute them out to all of the entities. So they go out to the fire departments and the hospitals and the school districts, and we make sure that we get the funds to those entities so they can continue functioning,” said Groening.
She hopes that people are patient as the office adjusts to the changes. But she is determined to keep the office running at its best.
“I guess the other thing that it’s important to say is that everyone in our office is still grieving. We lost a boss, a coworker and a really dear sweet friend. All of us there are grieving, but we also are determined to get the work done and take care of people,” she said. “It’s important and we owe it to her and all of the ladies that trained us to keep everything going.”
Groening will be sworn in at 8 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 17.