The Giles County Commission will consider changing the way the county’s fee offices’ finances are handled when it meets in monthly session Oct. 19.
The commission will also consider changes to its rules of the court at Monday’s meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on the second floor of the Giles County Courthouse.
Last week, the commission’s Legislative Committee discussed changing the county’s fee offices from the Fee System to the Salary System of handling the fees they collect. The county’s fee offices include County Clerk, Trustee, Circuit Court Clerk and Register of Deeds. The Register of Deeds is already on the Salary System.
Under the Fee System, as it was discussed in last week’s committee meeting, each office budget is funded through the fees that office collects. The fees cover the salaries of each office employee, while the offices’ other costs of operations come from the county general fund. Every quarter any fees received in excess of what is required to cover salaries is turned back over to the county general fund.
Under the Salary System, as discussed, the fee offices become part of the county’s general budget. Their salaries would all be budgeted from the general fund like other county offices to begin the fiscal year, while all of the fees these offices collect go straight to the county general fund every month.
While the COVID-19 related shut downs did not have a devastating effect on some offices, Giles County Circuit Court Clerk Natalie Oakley said the effect on the court system required her to eliminate one full-time and one part-time position. At this time Oakley told the committee she has not been able to refill those positions even though those employees are needed.
County Executive Melissa Greene explained that under the Salary System the loss of these county employees would not have been necessary. She noted that Giles County is one of few counties in the state that still uses the Fee System.
“If we budget money for salaries for her, her cash flow doesn’t matter because we’re supporting it with our general fund,” Greene said. “She would have those people in her office this whole time because the salaries would have been supported by the general fund.”
Legislative Committee Chairman Stoney Jackson said the move would provide better transparency overall, but also stressed that discussing the change does not mean the offices are not transparent in their operations.
“They turn the fees over every month instead of every three months,” Jackson said. “It just provides more transparency. You know how much money you have every month rather than waiting three months. I think you’d be in a better position. We are not trying to micro-manage your offices.”
Director of Finance Beth Moore-Sumners agreed that transparency would be improved with the move. She said she sees the move as a positive for the county, but added that the current system causes no hardship on her office.
Committee member Judy Pruett said she is in favor of changes that provide simplicity and uniformity in the county government. She made a motion to unify all the offices and make the salary plan consistent throughout the county. The Legislative Committee approved the motion unanimously.
The county commission will be asked to make the change official at its meeting Monday. If passed the change to the Salary System would become effective January 2021.
At last week’s meeting, the Legislative Committee also reviewed and suggested changes to the county commission’s rules of the court.
Those changes are on the agenda for Monday’s meeting.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the county commission will:
• Consider contracts, agreements and grants including: SunTrust equipment and occupancy lease, Giles County Archives governmental grant contract, Hazardous Materials Emergency Planning grant contract, Giles County Government grant contract amendment, Health Services grant contract and Election Security Assistance grant contract.
• Consider amendments to the County General Fund and General Purpose School Fund.
• Consider surety bonds for Assistant Road Supervisor Steve Kelley and Coroner Assistant Thomas Gatlin.
• Hear a report from Giles County Economic Development Executive Director David Hamilton.
• Receive reports from the director of finance for county departments including: County General, Drug, Highway, School, Federal, Food Service, Debt Service, Capital Projects, Highway Capital Projects, Education Capital Projects and other Capital Projects, Highway Department Quarterly, Health Department Quarterly, Animal Shelter Quarterly and the revised Financial Management Policies and Procedures.
• Consider new and renewal notaries public at large.