Financial plan moves forward

By Megan R. Harrell

Star Staff

   The second phase of the county financial management plan was presented to the full commission yesterday. The plan was spawned from the newly formed Financial Management Committee, which was designed to combine and streamline all of the county's financial offices.
   Financial director, Jason Cody gave commissioners the opportunity to review phase II of the implementation of the County Financial Management Act of 1981.The county adopted the act as a guideline for the finance committee earlier this year.
   The implementation plan is being presented to county commissioners phase by phase to prevent as much confusion as possible. "We are giving it to them phase by phase to eliminate rumors or concerns about how the implementation will be done," Joanne Blankenship, Chairman of the Financial Management Committee said.
   Phase II of the implementation is the first phase that actually consolidates a county department's finance office. The second phase of implementation deals solely with the Highway Department's finance office. "It is a detailed plan of bringing in the Highway Department," Cody said.
   Cody stated the department was chosen first for consolidation because of its size, and it was already on the same computer system as the finance offices at the main courthouse.
   The consolidation of offices has included the transfer of computer files, phone numbers, and employees to the courthouse. Cody stated that he expects Phase II to be completed by mid December, when the county Highway Department's finance office will be officially located in the courthouse.
   Phase III of the implementation will consolidate the Purchasing, Payroll, and Budgeting Departments. The Education Department will be dealt with last because of its large size and number of variables.
   All phases of implementation must be completed by August 2004; however, Cody expects to have all county finance departments operating out of the courthouse by August 2003.
   In other financial business, Cody briefed the commission on recent changes to county employee's insurance options. The financial director re-bid the county's health coverage in an attempt to curb the impact of rising insurance premiums.
   County employees will now be offered two options instead of one when choosing benefit packages. The county left the state's insurance program last year and must find other providers for at least two years. The three providers who made bids to pick up county employees are all private companies.