Needed increases in courthouse office personnel were approved during a county budget committee meeting. The need to increase workers due to state internal controls regulations had been debated for several months. Pending approval of the county budget on Thursday, one full-time position has been added to the office of Budget Director, and the offices of Trustee, County Clerk, and Register of Deeds will have an additional part-time person. County Executive Hoyt Firestone told the board they had approved another person for that office eight years ago when Mike Stinnett was in office. Mark Bishop said Firestone campaigned saying it wasn’t needed. Firestone said he did, but we were six years past that. He said work had increased and that something new was added to them every time the legislature met.
Firestone said the state had put the internal controls on them. “They didn’t give us an option,” Firestone said. He said it doesn’t spell out in the statute what will happen if they don’t do it, but that there would be a separate audit for federal dollars. Kelley Morgan, Director of Accounts and Budgets, told commissioners she was having surgery on the 30th, and would be down for 10 weeks. She said she would not be able to do any work for 4-5 weeks. Buster Lewis asked who would be doing her work while she was out. “You tell me,” Morgan said.
Firestone said it was a matter of fairness to the offices. He said regardless of the surgery, Morgan needed backup. Morgan said she just wanted to be compliant. She said if they were not going to combine the Road Department with County General, she needed one person. Firestone said Morgan went back through the revenues and made adjustments after speaking with the auditors and reconciling the general fund. He said she was able to find enough to fund the full-time position as well as the position in the County Clerk’s office. Angie Sanford currently has a part-time bookkeeping position, and her request was to make it a full-time position in order to be compliant with the internal controls regulations.
Trustee Gina Burchfiel said she needed a part-time position, but that she would figure out a way to make it work in order to accommodate the needs of the other offices. She said it would be hard, but she was willing to try to find a way. Morgan suggested that $9000 could be pulled from the fund balance. Mike Curbow said if they were going to do one, they might as well do all three. Lewis asked if the current 1-day a week position in Morgan’s office would be moved to the full-time position and if Alicia would be able to do everything. Morgan said she would not be able to do everything, but would have access to certain things and could do the work while she was out.
Morgan said the internal controls were designed for different people to do different things. Sheena Gaddis said there was nothing wrong with cross-training. Firestone said they had to be familiar and capable. Gaddis said somebody needed to be able to do it.
Bishop said they should look at other ways to save money and suggested an outside company to collect hours. Morgan said the sheriff’s department was the only one to turn in hours. Firestone said payroll was farmed out when he came back into office and it was a mess.Daren Waters asked how much was in the undesignated fund balance. Morgan said there was about $3.8 or $3.9 million. Bishop said if they started using the fund balance the courthouse would fall apart. Firestone said there was $180,000 earmarked for courthouse repairs. Bishop said he didn’t know if that would fix it. Firestone said said it might not but saying they wouldn’t be able to fix it was a big jump.
Sanford said she had increased services in her office and the county took the money for them each month. She said she would have to cut services if she did not have enough people in her office.
Curbow made a motion to pay for two half positions in the Trustee and Clerk’s offices out of the fund balance. Morgan said it would be about $26,000 depending on insurance. She said between $100,000 and $200,000 went into the fund balance each year. Pippenger said that meant they were overfunding. Bishop and Gaddis voted against the motion; all others voted yes. Greg Brooks and Karen Bracken were absent. Curbow motioned to pay for the position in the budget office and half position in the Deeds office through the cuts Morgan found in the budget. Bishop and Gaddis both voted no; all others voted yes. Bishop said he preferred “pay as you go” instead of using the fund balance. Waters said a 2¢ tax increase would enable them to do that if that’s what they wanted.