Carter County Finance Department consolidates offices

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff

Finance Department employees for the Carter County School System are packing their offices and moving to "higher" ground. The second floor of the courthouse is their destination.
Their mission is to fulfill a requirement of the Carter County Commission to abide by the Financial Act of 1981, which suggests that county governments create a centralized location for accounting and finance functions to increase efficiency and save money.
The Financial Act of 1981 states, "All employees performing the functions of purchasing, payroll, accounting and budgeting in the various operating departments shall be transferred to the supervision of the director of finance."
"It (the financial act) centralizes the functions under myself. It puts all the accounting personnel under a chain of command. The '81 act enables people to report to the same chain, and there is a better safeguard for auditing," said Jason Cody, the county's director of finance.
Carter County School System Budget Director, Jerome Kitchens, is in the process of moving his entire office to the second floor of the courthouse to accommodate the needs of the act. His new office will be fully functioning by next week. Kitchens will be named Deputy Finance Director, second in command in the Finance Department. His duties include handling financial reporting, special statistical reporting, payment voucher preparation and payroll verification and payment.
Kitchens will serve in his current job with the school system and also act as a liaison between the finance director, superintendent of schools, and the board of education.
Along with Kitchens, several employees whose offices are currently located in the Board of Education office building are filling up boxes and unplugging computers. Karen Hill, Theresa Crain and Linda Wiseman prepare to tackle additional responsibilities to fulfill requirements of the 1981 act. Hill and Crain will handle payroll, and Wiseman will operate the accounts division of schools encompassed in the new centralized finance department. These offices will work in conjunction with the county offices and highway department offices.
Crain and Hill will maintain files for purchase orders and oversee the central storeroom inventory to determine what items need to ordered. Duties in the accounts department for Wiseman include handling the general ledger and chart of accounts, preparing IRS 10-99 forms, and monitoring paid invoice and voucher files.
Carter County Highway Department employee Ingred Deloach moved into the county school's office earlier this year. Deloach is an accounting clerk who replaced Gloria Winters following her retirement in March 2003.
Cody emphasized that all employees will be cross-trained to provide backup in case of emergency or sickness.