County to save $80,000 annually with change in job positions

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The county will save approximately $80,000 annually after deciding to not hire a replacement for the chief accountant position vacated when Debra Gibson retired from the role.

County administrator McKenzie Wilson was not in attendance at the commission’s meeting Monday night, but she left the commission a memo recommending that the county not replace the position, but instead turn a different part-time position into a full-time position to help with some of the workload.

The memo also recommended that the county hire Gibson-Carden to handle the financial statements for the county since it will now only have on certified public accountant instead of two.

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The commission did not agree about the decision.

“We lost Debra and McKenzie is our administrator,” said Commissioner Charlie Harris, District 5. “With all the work going on in the county, how can she handle that job herself and the job we gave her as administrator? Can’t pass it down to Jordan (Cox) or any other employees … How can you put this stuff on the office staff when they’re already busy?”

Harris also said he didn’t like the idea of needing to reach out to a third party accounting firm if he or other commissioners have questions.

“I want them sitting right here in front of me,” Harris said. “I want to ask that question and get that answer; I don’t want to have to go across town to get that answer and come back.”

Commissioner Chad Copeland, District 4, said there is still one accountant in the office and that the cost-savings will be worth the change.

“The memo basically states that we don’t replace the chief accountant and certain duties are spread throughout the office with the exception of financial statements,” Copeland said. “We went to local CPAs and got a proposal. We change one part-time position to full-time and get a net savings of $80,000 to our office. Most of the work is still being done in office except for the bid for the outsourcing of the financial statements … None of the info that we get is going to change.”

Copeland said this is one of many moves the county needs to consider making to free up more taxpayer money for other projects.

“The status quo is over,” Copeland said. “No more of ‘we need this position because we’ve always had this position … this is exactly what we need. We need everybody in the county to look at doing (things just like this), better utilizing what we have, not just ‘we’ve always had this so I don’t know how else we can do this.’ That’s just lazy leadership.”

Commissioner Homer Wright, District 1, said the county has already contracted out mowing and spraying vegetation and that it has not produced savings.

“We’re sitting here talking about contracting stuff out, but we did contract out mowing for almost $100,000 and we’re get one cutting out of the deal. Then we turn around and say we’re saving money and we don’t get but one cut? We’re not saving money, we’re taking a job from one of our constituents.”

Commissioner Russell Johnson, District 6, said the mowing outsourcing did help save money and allowed for the resurfacing of local roads.

“We can sit here all night and talk about things like this, but we put together last year first road paving budget in county in three decades,” Johnson said. “Outsourcing public works like spraying and mowing funded the first major road paving we’ve had in three decades. Now we’re staring at $80,000; that’s why we talked about when (Gibson) announced she was going to retire that we were going to look at outsourcing financial statements. We were spending about $250,000 a year on mowings. It isn’t perfect now, but it got us $1.2 million in road paving done when there was no answer how to get it done. We need to continue to perpetuate reinvesting money into the county instead of into jobs we can outsource.”

Harris said the county is wasting money not using the new tractors it has since the contractor is mowing and said that county forces have had to go behind and mow after the contractor. Engineer Russell Oliver said county forces do not mow behind the contractor; if a spot is missed, the contractor is called back to finish the area.

Harris and Wrigth voted against contracting Gibson-Carden and not hiring a chief accountant, while Sullivan, Copeland, Johnson and Barron.

Harris said he was upset with the way the commission handled the process.

“The memo we just read, it has already been established who that part-time worker is that is going to get that job,” Harris said. “I do not appreciate the way the county commission has been handling that. I want the public to know that. It has already been cut and dried who is going to get that job out of that office.”

In other business, the commission:

  • Approved for Oliver and Wilson to work with banks to get proposals for a short-term loan to fund the resurfacing of an industrial access road on County Road 7714 north of the proposed Rex Lumber Mill site. Oliver said federal funding has been slowed due to the recent government shutdown and could be even further delayed by another potential shutdown. The loan would be reimbursed by the EDA.
  • Approved for the advertising of bids for the resurfacing of the road pending approval of the EDA.
  • Approved the transfer of a siren to Coffee County.
  • Reappointed member to the DHR board and appointed new member Dianna Bascomb.