County Delays Forming Centralized Financial System

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

The Cannon County Commission spent considerable time discussing a number of issues during its monthly meeting Tuesday (March 13) at the Cannon County Courthouse.

Following are some of the highlights from the meeting:

• The Commissioners decided to table a resolution to form a committee to draft a Private Act to create a centralized system of accounting, budgeting and purchasing of all funds held by the county trustee, exclusive of the trustee’s fee account.

The decision on whether to form the committee to pursue the Private Act through the Tennessee General Assembly was put off until the Commissioners receive the first report from the recently-formed County Audit Committee.

Commissioner Kevin George made a motion to approve the Resolution, citing the recommendation of state auditors over the last several years that the County create a centralized financial system. The motion died for lack of a second.

Commissioner Mark Barker expressed concern about the cost associated with establishing such a system, which he stated would be around $100,000 annually. Barker said he had spoken Tuesday with the state auditor who performs the County’s annual audit and was told by her that “they have to put it in there (forming a centralized system).” However, Barker added that “they never do say it will save us money.”

When asked, Doug Bodary, the County’s advisor from CTAS (County Technical Assistance Service), stated that a centralized system had saved Bedford County several million dollars, which prompted Commissioner George to state, “I can’t imagine we wouldn’t do that.”

Glenn Steakley, chairman of the Audit Committee, stated the Committee is in the process of reviewing the findings of the recently released 2010-2011 County Audit. He said after the Committee has completed its work and consults with the state auditor, they will make a report to the Commission.

A little less than half (41) of Tennessee’s 95 counties do not have a centralized financial system.

• After first taking no action on Commission Chairman Bob Stoetzel’s request to have the County pursue a bond rating utilizing Bodary’s services through CTAS, the Commission approved a motion to do so made by Commissioner Jim Bush and seconded by Commissioner George by a 10-0 vote. It is the belief of Bodary and some members of the commission that a good bond rating will save the county $10,000 annually in the cost of bond insurance.

• The decision to pursue the bond rating brought about the reversal of a decision on another matter the Commission had rejected earlier in the meeting. By a 2-7-1 vote, Commissioners had nixed a motion to assume the Cannon Courier’s lease of its office space in the Regions Bank building on West Water St. across from the courthouse. 

Local resident Corey Davenport asked Commissioner Kevin Mooneyham if he would reconsider his opposition to assuming the lease. Commissioner Mooneyham said he would, adding that his opposition stemmed from the fact the commission had taken no action on potentially saving money on the bond rating insurance, but were wanting to spend money to lease the Region Bank office space.

Commissioner Mooneyham made a motion to lease the building, Commissioner Russell Reed seconded the motion, and it passed 7-2-1. The space will initially be used to store county records. Most commissioners agreed there is a need for additional storage space for the county because the courthouse is running out of room. At some point in the future some county offices now located in the courthouse may be moved across the street to the building.

• Commissioners spent nearly an hour discussing purchasing fire trucks. The main point of contention was at which local fire station the trucks would be located. By a 10-0 vote, they passed a motion made by Commissioner Bush to purchase two used trucks, for an amount of approximately $130,000, obtaining a three-year note, and paying for them out of Debt Service. One of the trucks will be located at Gassaway and the other at West Side.

See next week’s Cannon Courier for additional coverage of Tuesday’s meeting.