Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon says he is not opposed to the idea of establishing a centralized financial management system for the county.
“It’s a concept I have supported since the State Comptroller’s Office first began recommending one in their annual audits,” Gannon said. “It is not something I have pushed because I know it will increase government spending.”
Gannon estimates the creation of a central financial office will cost the county around $100,000 annually. The Comptroller’s Office believes one is needed to better protect and spend taxpayer’s money.
“My governing philosophy has always been that the best way to protect taxpayer’s money is to not spend it in the first place,” Gannon said. “What money that is collected should be spent as much as possible on services that help people and not on funding government operations.”
Gannon said he has spoken with mayors whose counties have a central system and has received a variety of views on having one.
“One told me it was the best thing that could happen for me. He said it takes away some of the burdens of the job. Like the Comptroller said (in a recent article provided to The Cannon Courier) it would take away a lot of my workload and free me up to do other things I need to be doing. I guess I would benefit more than anyone.”
However, Gannon said he doesn’t think a different financial management system will save the county money.
“I have not seen where it would save any money and none of the executives I have spoken to said it did in their counties. I think the reason only a little over half of the counties in the state have one is because they are small counties struggling to make ends meet every year.”
The county executive said he thinks the Cannon County Commission should study the matter and determine whether or not a central financial system would be both beneficial and cost-effective.
“I think the commission should take time to evaluate everything, get all the facts, and show taxpayers where money can either be saved, better protected or spent more efficiently.”
One reason to have a central financial office cited by the Comptroller’s Office was the recent guilty plea by the former director of the Cannon County REACH Afterschool Program to stealing over $60,000 from the program. Gannon’s office was criticized for a lack of oversight in the special investigative audit report which helped uncover the theft.
“There were some things we should have done better and I’ve acknowledge that and we have taken corrective measures. According to the auditors REACH has been operating fine for over a year and a half. They tell me everything has been and is being well documented now,” Gannon said.
He also pointed out that theft, fraud and embezzlement have occurred in other counties in recent years, including those with a central financial system.
“Our (county executive’s) office has become a lot more demanding in terms of why money is being asked for and what it is being spent on since the REACH incident began to unfold in late 2010,” Gannon said.
One thing Gannon thinks should be done before the commission decides on establishing a central system is to wait and see what the recently-formed county audit committee says in its initial report.
“At the urging of the Cannon County Republican Party and with my support the audit committee was formed. The people serving on the committee are informed individuals who know our unique situation and the difficulties of operating on a small budget. We should hear what they have to say about how our money is being spent, managed and accounted for before moving forward.”