Treasurer’s office receives more aid
The Prince Edward County Treasurer’s Office will have some additional funding through March 2021 to pay a retired treasurer from a neighboring county to help put the office in a place where it can stand on its own.
Prince Edward County’s Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 Tuesday, Dec. 8, to approve the request to increase the part-time funding in the treasurer’s office by $11,600 and to appropriate the same funds.
Hampden District Supervisor Dr. Odessa Pride and Farmville 801 District Supervisor Pattie Cooper-Jones abstained from voting.
A memo from County Administrator Doug Stanley in the board meeting packet elaborated on the request from Prince Edward County Treasurer Donna Bowman Nunnally.
“As the board is aware, the county has engaged the services of a retired treasurer from a neighboring county to provide staff training and assist the treasurer’s office,” Stanley stated. “At the time of the original request from the treasurer, the extent and depth of the work that has been required to reconcile multiple years, multiple funds and the schools was unknown.
“To enable the treasurer, the county administrator’s office and the schools to complete the needed scope of work and coordinate financial processes and controls, the treasurer is asking the board to provide additional part-time funding in the amount of $11,600,” he continued. “This additional engagement is estimated for 32 hours per week at $25 per hour through March.”
During the meeting, Stanley noted there was some vacancy savings for the treasurer’s office back in fiscal year 2020, but there is none available for fiscal year 2021.
“And I would note that the per-hour charge is up,” he added. “It’s a little over $18 an hour at the current time, but given (the retired treasurer’s) background and experience, she’s well-qualified, and I think it’s still a bargain at the $25 an hour.”
Stanley said the retired treasurer is really helping staff get up to speed and address outstanding issues, not only in the department but also with finances in general with the county as well.
Leigh District Supervisor and Board Chair Jerry Townsend put in his own words why more funding was being requested.
“We thought that it was said that that person would get that department, the treasurer’s office, where it needs to be to carry out their duties without any more assistance, but that’s not the case,” he said. “So they came back and asked for additional funding.”
He emphasized that for the board’s personnel committee and the board, the bottom line is the committee and board need to fix the problem.
“But this is a continuation of problems,” Cooper-Jones said. “They’ve been going on for years, and when are the taxpayers going to stop paying for what somebody is not able to accomplish? That is a real issue. This is not the first time that we’ve brought somebody into that office.”
“I totally agree,” Townsend said.
“And if we’re just paying money for somebody else to do the job, then what’s the real question?” Cooper-Jones asked.
Townsend said he spoke to Nunnally and asked the question multiple times — “Is this going to get you where you need to be to fix the problem?”
“But that’s what was said it was going to do when we hired somebody before,” Cooper-Jones responded.
“And I agree, same thing,” Townsend said. “It’s a repeat, and it’s been a repeat for years. I totally agree. At some point we’ve got to cut it off.”
Townsend said he thinks it is a matter of getting staff in the treasurer’s office educated to be able to do the job.
Stanley highlighted the positive strides the office’s staff has been making.
“The first cut, the first section you all approved, has really helped them close out each of the months and get through the fiscal year in which they’ve basically been able to do that in a timeframe they estimated,” he said. “I think what they are trying to do is to educate staff on other processes within that department to make sure the journal entries and things are done appropriately. And honestly, I think if we had a county finance director, I think some of that stuff could be assisted by someone from administration to help with some of those things.”
He noted that positive changes are being made and staff is being brought up to speed.
Townsend reflected on how the treasurer’s office got in a position where it needed this help.
“I think that it just got to the point where it just got worse, or worse than was anticipated, and I think it was a lack of reporting up when it should have been, and I made Ms. Nunnally aware of that,” he said. “She should have been in front of this board telling us that things weren’t being done appropriately.”
With the board’s 6-0 vote, it agreed to have Nunnally give a status report to the board in January, February and March.
After the vote, Lockett District Supervisor Robert M. “Bobby” Jones said the county has a very capable person to help with finances in the form of its former county administrator, Wade Bartlett.
“I wonder if we ought to talk to Wade about possibly doing some help with that situation, because I think he did a great job of financing, and I’ll leave it at that,” he said.