WILMINGTON — Coming changes to Clinton County’s accounting software could allow county officials more latitude over their budgets and, hopefully, create more efficiency in public affairs.
Clinton County Auditor Terry Habermehl, Chief Deputy Auditor Carol McFall and Deputy Auditor Logan Bailey told the Clinton County commissioners about their goals for an upcoming “restructuring” of Munis, the county’s accounting software.
McFall told the commissioners that the changes should make it easier for county departments to account for public money, retain transparency for public records requests and could allow for more flexibility in budget changes.
“A lot of departments have asked for a more streamlined process for getting the financial work of the county completed,” said a written report from the auditor’s office. “It is also important to maintain the integrity of the financial reporting system and to ensure compliance with the Ohio Revised Code and (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). We believe that the changes will accomplish all of these objectives.”
A conversion is planned Monday, July 27 and Tuesday, July 28, McFall said, so the restructured system will be available for end-of-year budget discussions. The next available date, Bailey said, was in September.
McFall said she’d offer training to county officials on how to use the revised system.
The conversion will reduce the number of object codes, essentially line item types, from 369 to 134, and Habermehl hopes to reduce the number of revenue codes as well. Doing so, McFall said, will make it easier to use.
Descriptions of the object codes will be added, which, according to Habermehl, make it easier to pick which code an expense should fall under.
McFall suggested that the commissioners approve budgets at the highest levels possible — personnel and non-personnel — instead of by object code. She said the commissioners could still require public employees to discuss changes, but said the high-level approval will ease rules from State Auditor Dave Yost concerning movement of money from one line to another.
“When I come before the commissioners to present my budget, I’m still going to justify the amount of money that I need at an object code level,” Habermehl said. “But once the budget is approved, if we do it the way we’re suggesting, then I and every other elected official and department head has maximum flexibility to manage our budgets how we see fit.”
McFall also suggested the commissioners approve a standard purchase voucher of $1,000 for goods, supplies and travel. The voucher would allow departments to purchase items without first setting up a purchase order in Munis.
McFall used the example of when she had to set up a purchase order to buy a step stool and said it would have saved her time had she been able to use a voucher.
“When you look at it from an efficiency perspective … it’s a lot of money (in lost time),” Habermehl said.
Bailey and Commissioner Kerry Steed said about 80 percent of the operating portion of the budget was slated for personnel costs.
“I often joked (throughout years of government service) that we spend hours on end over $50 employee reimbursements, but $4 million contracts go through and we don’t spend half as much time on them,” McFall said. “Everybody’s got limited time and resources. Where do we want to spend our time and resources? In my book, I want to spend it on our big contracts.”
McFall further asked the commissioners to consider entering a contract with Munis to host server storage and related data services from its location in Maine. Currently, the auditor’s office has its own servers, which are nearing replacement age, according to Habermehl.
• Paid a $1,307,385 bill to Perfection Group. The bill is a 25 percent down payment for renovations to the Clinton County courthouse and other county buildings, as previously reported by the Wilmington News Journal.
• Approved the purchase of a $29,354.50 Ford Truck for the Clinton County Solid Waste Department to replace the current truck, which CCSWD Coordinator Jeff Walls said needs serious repairs. Walls said replacing the truck was planned for in the current budget.
• Appropriated an additional $135 for major equipment to the Clinton County Jail to pay for permitting fees related to the installation of boilers.
• Approved releasing $4,370 in permissive tax monies for Adams Township and $5,197 for Liberty Township for roadway sealing.
• Drew down $58,192 in grant money from 2013 Community Development Block Grant and Community Housing Improvement Program grants.
• Drew down $16,300 in grant money from a 2014 CDBG grant.
• Discussed the need for Clinton County Emergency Management Agency to get a procurement card to make emergency expenditures and an account with Lowes to purchase supplies after a weather event. The commissioners asked County Administrator Mary Ann Foland and their clerk, Diana Groves, to aid EMA in getting a procurement card and an account with Lowes. Steed also suggested that the commissioners look into getting a drone for EMA to assess damages from storms instead of relying on a local pilot, as EMA does now.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.