Mt. Vernon Register-News

February 21, 2014

New claims policy tabled

By RICK HAYES rick.hayes@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — A policy to restructure the payment of claims by Jefferson County government was proposed, but tabled, at Thursday’s meeting of the Fiscal Committee.

The policy, according to Treasurer Dan Knox, would improve the county’s monthly cash flow.

Knox explained claims are consistently 60 days past due and the county’s process of paying demand claims when cash flow allows and monthly claims approved at the full County Board meetings worked when the county’s cash flow was significant when the county was housing ICE prisoners.

Since that time, cash flow has deteriorated, and the county is holding checks for 60 to 90 days.

“This is bad business practice and bad accounting practice and not part of the best practice of safeguarding for the county,” Knox said. “The solution is to get vendors paid in a more timely manner,” he added.

Knox and Administrative Assistant Suzy Tate made recommendations to move away from the monthly claims process and to limit the demand claims even more — suggesting approving claims twice per month, but only those claims the county has money for. That way, the county is not holding checks for 60 to 90 days at a time, it was reported.

Possible solutions suggested is for the County Board to give the Fiscal Committee authority to approve claims twice a month and then the full board would give final approval. Under this proposal, the Fiscal Committee would meet twice monthly — once briefly on the first Thursday of the month and then it’s regular monthly meeting on the third Thursday of the month. This option gives the County Board more authority over the bills, it was rationalized. The second option would give Tate, along with the county chairman, the authority to approve claims twice monthly and then the County Board would have final approval at its regular monthly meeting on the fourth Monday of each month. Under the second option, the need for the Fiscal Committee two meet twice per month would be eliminated.

Committee member Randy Edwards asked how meeting twice a month would improve cash flow. Knox responded, “We won’t have to release as large sums of money all at once. We can pay little amounts as we go … that helps cash flow.”

An employee of the county clerk’s office said she agreed demand claims and monthly claims should be combined, however she questioned whether bills could be paid every two weeks.

The Committee eventually tabled taking action on the policy until its March committee meeting.

During his monthly report, Knox reported the county’s General Corporate working cash balance is approximately $159,000 following the most recent payroll. Monthly claims to be approved on Monday are $96,354, although the treasurer noted the treasurer’s office is holding January claims of about $100,000 and some December claims.

Knox said the county received two state income tax payments in December and the county is still awaiting payments of $164,801 for January and $174,896 for February.

“Will that allow us to get caught up? No, but it will help us get headed in the right direction,” Knox said.

The Technology Committee met prior to the Fiscal Committee but took no action due to a lack of a quorum. On Monday at the full board meeting, representatives from three companies are expected to submit quotes for computer equipment updates and quotes for FOIA complaint e-mails and automatic archiving.