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Photo by Mel Hunt

Allegany County Treasurer Terri Ross Remembers Mentor Jim Mulholland

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As you can see in this vintage picture, the current county Treasurer Terri Ross and her predecessor were friends, not just colleagues. When asked to make a few comments on the man and his impact on Allegany County, Ross provides a wonderful look at Jim’s legacy in Allegany County life, government, and politics.

Photo by John Anderson, sometime last century

” I’m certainly saddened by the news.  It’s hard for me to put into words the many things that he accomplished over his career. He was a great teacher and mentor to me and gave me a chance 40 years ago to have the career I have today.

He was appointed as Treasurer during the flood by Gov Rockefeller and shaped the way we do business today.  One of his biggest contributions was technology.

In 1972 it was a computer-less time and everything was done manually.  Adding machines, handwritten documents for tax collection and payroll etc, we had two manual typewriters that were later replaced about 1987 with electric ones that were about $ 800/each!  He brought the office into the computer phase and the county’s technology to life in the early 80’s, which was about a year before I started with the county .  He was working three jobs, funeral director, farmer and County Treasurer.  When I started full time in summer of 1983, there were about 3 computers in the entire county – all wired into a mainframe Burroughs system that was housed in our office.  It took an entire room to house the equipment just to run the computers.  Two computers were in our office and one in the Clerk of the Boards office.   We plugged along and added as we could afford to until around 1990.  By 1991 he had initiated a significant computer software/hardware purchase that changed the way we did and still do process the payroll and all the financials for the County.

Obviously there have been many upgrades to the system but when he started in 1972, every office had different ways of doing the accounting for their department and some even did their own payroll.  He combined all the different paydates (monthly, weekly, bi-monthly etc) and combined all the different financial methods to pay the bills and audits.  Now we all work off one payroll system and one financial system housed in the Treasurer’s Office.  He was always the whiz behind the budget as well during his time here – he served as both the budget officer and deputy budget officer for many years to aid the Board in completed a balanced budget.  Sometimes contentious meeting arose but always a balanced budget in the end.  We kidded around a lot because somehow he got his hands on an old leather whip, which he later handed down to me, so we had backup to always whip things into shape if we needed to 🙂

I spoke to him when the Flossie Wilbur case came to light again last summer.  He was the administrator of her estate when she disappeared and I wanted to let him know that they could be calling him for information.  He chuckled to think that was still a mystery and wondered if the “postcards” would begin again.  We laughed remember how many postcards he received at the office from “Flossie”, that were undoubtedly from jokesters on vacation around the country. 

There were many other changes that came along during the Mulholland Administration – one was the evolution of smoking – everyone smoked at their desks back then and when the no smoking era arrived – there was no more smoking at the desks which led to less fires from the long paper adding machine tapes getting into the ashtrays!! LOL

It was a great time to work for the county, there were less employees and certainly more need to interact with each other which made us feel like family.  

A lot has changed since 1972 but I think we can safely say that Jim took the lead and was a great watch dog for the county’s taxpayers.  He used to say to me – …”my name may appear on the checks that I sign here but it’s not our money so we need to be respectful and careful with how we spend it!!”  Good advice I still use to this day.

We have so many things to be thankful here in the county and true leaders are hard to come by.  He taught so many of us the meaning of doing a good job, and being proud of whatever crossed our desks and how important is was that information that left our office was accurate.  He was a forward thinking and not afraid to take a leap and make a change.  That level of commitment and dedication is hard to come by.  It’s a true treasure when you find that.

 I was his Deputy for the last 18 years of his career and he encouraged me every day to do better and learn all I could so that I could become his replacement.  He taught me the good things in civil service to your community.  He was a good man and I thanked him often for that. 

He will be missed… ”

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