Commissioner David continues to push for more financial reports

COMMISSIONER T.D. David says additional reports will prevent county officials from making “risky” financial decisions.

Grady County Commissioner T.D. David continued to push his fellow commissioners to join him in requiring additional financial reporting from the county’s staff during Tuesday’s regular commission meeting.
“I encouraged my fellow commissioners to consider some additional reports to help us have less risk when we make decisions. The reception, I guess you would say, was a little cool. I’ve asked them to look at the reports I’ve produced and I will be glad to go over them,” Commissioner David said Tuesday night.
David presented the board with a number of reports including some that offer expanded information over some that are currently presented by the county staff.
One report David recommends would indicate bank balances for all accounts at the beginning and end of each month along with the deposits and withdrawals from each account during the month.
“The report Carlos gives us is just ending balances. He calls it a cash flow statement, but it’s not. He and I go back and forth on this. Public accounting versus private accounting,” David said.
Commission Vice Chairman Charles Norton reminded David the county’s books are audited by a government auditor.
Norton and Commissioner Ray Prince questioned the ending balances for the month of February in David’s reports compared to a report prepared by the county staff.
“Something’s missing here,” Norton said.
“This is what your books say as of the end of February. It makes no difference what happens in April. These are the figures from the county’s books at the end of February,” David said.
Commissioner Norton also expressed concerns that the additional reporting would take time away from the county staff being able to keep up with other duties and responsibilities.
Commissioner David previously sought permission from the board to have online access to the county’s bank accounts as well as to have access to the county’s accounting software.
Commissioners nixed the request for online access to the bank accounts, but never commented publicly on what their decision was regarding access to the accounting software. David did not demand a public decision Tuesday night.
During the discussion this week, Commissioner David said he had researched his request for online bank account access and he maintained the only risk involved was with personnel. He indicated that in his research he contacted all of the banks the county does business with except for Ameris Bank. According to David, he did not contact Ameris because Commissioner Norton’s wife is employed there.
Commissioner Norton took that opportunity to correct previous statements made by David concerning county business, his wife and Ameris Bank.
“When I said that I talked with some bankers about you having online access you made the statement that I must have talked to my wife. I want to correct that and make it clear that my wife and I don’t discuss bank business,” Commissioner Norton said.
Commissioner David then said that Commissioners Norton and Elwyn Childs “took advantage” of the system by allowing their names to be electronically printed on accounts payable checks issued by the county on a monthly basis for the last four years.
“I didn’t take advantage of nothing,” Commissioner Childs responded.
David said he had requested past and present county administrators and accounting managers to correct the electronic signature on the accounts payable checks but it had not been corrected.
Commissioner Norton said that prior to going to the electronic signature, the chairman and vice chairman had to spend considerable time each month at the courthouse just signing checks. He reminded Commissioner David that regardless of whose name is printed on the checks the checks are not written until the chairman and vice chairman sign off on a monthly accounts payable report.
Norton questioned how much additional time each month would it take the county staff to prepare the additional reports requested by David.
Commissioner David estimated it would take less than 30 minutes to prepare the cash flow statement, but County Administrator Carlos Tobar disagreed.
“It would be interesting to see just how long it would take, but I suspect it would be more than 30 minutes,” Tobar said.
“Didn’t our auditor tell us we don’t need all of this?” Chairman LaFaye Copeland asked.
“I don’t know why you are fighting this,” Commissioner David responded.
In other business Tuesday night, the board of commissioners approved budget amendments for the 2014 operating budget as recommended by County Administrator Tobar.
Tobar said the budget amendments are a prerequisite for the audit and must be validated by the auditor.
“The auditor still has to do some accruals so you will see these numbers again when they are presented in the audit,” Tobar said.
Based on the administrator’s recommended budget amendment the county’s total revenue for 2014 increased from an original budget of $11,592,772 to $11,913,349. Total expenditures increased from the original budgeted amount of $11,215,502 to $11,454,340.
Tobar’s recommended amended budget  indicates a budget surplus of $459,009 and a healthier financial position than what Auditor Tom Carmichael reported in February for the 11-month period ended Nov. 30, 2014.
Carmichael’s report indicated the county’s fund balances dropped, not increased, and the county spent $113,598 more than it took in as revenue.
As of Nov. 30, 2014, the county’s fund balances stood at $10,351,036, which is down from $10,385,671 on Jan. 1, 2014.
Total revenue for the 11-month period was $9,993,477, but the county spent $10,107,075 during the 11 months ended Nov. 30, according to Carmichael’s report.
Tobar told commissioners the county staff has a deadline of April 30 to produce all of the records and information Carmichael and his personnel need to complete an audit of fiscal year 2014.

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