New policies to be drafted for county

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Staff
mharrell@starhq.com

   The Carter County Financial Management Committee met Monday to discuss the implementation of new plans and procedures for county offices. The County Financial Management System of 1981, adopted by the county in February, requires that policies be outlined by July 2003.
   Monday's meeting was the first Financial Management Committee meeting held under the new commission and recently appointed Finance Director, Jason Cody.
   County Executive, Dale Fair briefed the committee on its role in county government under the Act of 1981. "It goes over the ways that things are centralized," Fair said. "Hopefully by centralizing stuff you can create efficiency, and when you create efficiency you can save the county some money."
   Fair pointed out the function of the finance committee is fundamentally to set policy and procedures for all county offices. The actual spending of county funds will still be the responsibility of the entire commission.
   Members of the Special Investigations Committee recommended the county adopt the 1981 management plan over the Fiscal Control Act of 1957. The legislation was established by the General Assembly to provide county government with a systematic approach to financial management.
   Committee Chairwoman, JoAnn Blankenship, pointed out the importance of developing sound policies and procedures from the beginning. "The one thing they emphasize is you need to have the policies and procedures as far as the purchasing aspect," Blankenship said. "The other pretty much falls into place, but you've got to be very strict on the purchasing."
   The committee plans to prioritize the adoption of policies and procedures by first addressing areas that are the most pressing, such as purchasing.
   During his first two weeks in office, Finance Director Jason Cody has been able to make a preliminary assessment of the county's finances. He highlighted several areas where the county could operate more cost-effectively.
   Cody suggested the committee look into consolidating pay into bi-weekly cycles, moving to direct deposit, and adopting a lagged pay cycle. Cody mentioned several other findings in his initial assessment, which he offered as an example of how the committee should go about making policies and procedures.
   Cody believes the committee would be best served by looking at what neighboring counties are doing and then drafting a proposal of a new policy for Carter County.
   Cody and Fair will travel to Monroe County Oct. 15 to observe the county's implementation of policies and procedures under the 1981 Act. "We'll know a lot more once we go down there and talk to them on a practical basis," Cody said.
   The finance committee will discuss Cody and Fair's findings at the Oct. 21 meeting and begin drafting official policies for county offices at that time.