County goat holds up financial
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[FEB. 16, 2005]
The newest county board
member, George Mitchell, called the new computer system a goat.
Whether he meant it as saying that the system is being used as a
scapegoat or that it is like a stubborn goat holding things
up, it doesn't matter; either could apply. He gave both praise and
criticism, interpreting the difficulties the county is having with
the newly implemented system that is trying patience in trying
Delays in getting financial reports
from each of the county departments are compounding anxieties in
planning for the future. A bottom line for the current fiscal year
that ends in November is expected to remain $800,000 in the black.
However, this margin is so narrow that some payment delays are
expected, as some revenues are not received until after the fiscal
County officials concerned that they
may be forced to consider layoffs later this year are without a
reliable gauge to measure the county's financial health at this
time. In the past they have had to rely on the annual audit, which
isn't ready until late in the fiscal year -- too late to do anything
differently, board member Dale Voyles and finance chair Chuck Ruben
One advantage of generating monthly
reports from each department is that they will help assess current
financial standing. However, several factors have not allowed those
reports to be generated for this fiscal year yet. The delay has
officials chomping at the bit.
The board is preparing to put a 0.5
percent public safety tax on the April 5 ballot for public approval.
The sales tax will aid in creating revenue. If the measure does not
pass, the board will need to find a way to cut expenses. Last month all
department heads were asked to prepare a budget for 2006 with a 25
percent cut. It is hoped that 25 percent won't be necessary, but it
One finance committee member does
not agree with looking at cuts just yet and focused on getting the
computers to generate the monthly reports. "We're a quarter of the
way into the new fiscal year," Dick Logan said. "We deserve to have
those reports in front of us. Otherwise, we don't know what we're
[to top of second column in
County coordinator Dewey Colter
and Ruben explained the causes of the delays. Most significantly,
the old system didn't mesh well with the new system and data did not
carry over readily.
Another major influence developed
during the changeover. The county chose an option where the
departments were not uniform in their entries with what other
departments are doing.
And lastly, the computer changeover
took place at the same time as the start of the new fiscal year.
This changeover is more of a change than the last system change and is
taking longer to complete.
The reports are of major concern for
the immediate year. Every year has the potential to play a little
differently due to fluctuations in some revenues. Most variable are
revenues from fees and costs associated with the law and court
However, it has been pointed out
that there can also be unanticipated shortages of revenue. Last year
a property owner refuted a significant tax payment and won. Enough
shortages can have an impact.
Likewise, departments have been
looking for ways to increase revenues, and those are helping the
Colter has been assisting the
departments and trainers in getting through the difficulties and
believes that the reports should be out soon, possibly today.