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Just a Thought - Streamline budget process more

I hope Warren County Commissioners get on board with County Executive Jimmy Haley’s efforts to simplify the budget process. Personally, I think it’s a wonderful idea.

According to county attorney Robert Bratcher, there is no written policy or provision which requires approval by any “advisory committee” prior to expenditures being made. So, department committees are advisory only. Who knew? Now we know. 

Haley decided to use that previously unknown information and “streamline” this fiscal year’s budget-setting process and remove department committee approval. 

Haley says those committees can still meet to review the proposed budgets and offer suggestions. But what’s the point when you can’t officially approve anything? Seems like a waste of time. Additionally, commissioners get paid per meeting so it is also a waste of taxpayer money. 

While some county commissioners aren’t happy about this situation, I’d like to say, “Thank you!” to Haley. Good job. Well done.

I’ve always found it redundant to have those extra committee hoops when the county’s Budget and Finance Committee members would be the ones making the actual cuts to the budget and making sure the county stays financially stable. 

I hope commissioner get on board with Haley’s efforts to simplify budget setting and remove unnecessary steps. Toward this endeavor, I have a suggestion: Revise the policy and procedures manual regarding the Financial Management Committee and remove its authority over the budget. 

According to the County Financial Management System of 1981, which the county adopted in 2012, the county was required to create the Financial Management Committee. Within TCA code, “the county legislative body, by resolution, may create special committees or may authorize the financial management committee to assume any or all of the following functions: 1) budgeting, 2) investment, and 3) purchasing. 

When the County Commission set the Financial Management Committee, it included within its policy and procedure manual all three functions. Because the county already has a budgeting committee (Budget and Finance), it doesn’t need two committees doing the same thing. 

Amend the policy and procedures manual over Financial Management Committee and remove “budgeting” as one of its responsibilities.

By that same code, “counties operating under the County Financial Management System of 1981, authorizes the budget committee, in conjunction with the director, to adopt a budget timeline.” That budget committee should be the county’s Budget and Finance and not Financial Management. 

Haley has gotten the streamline effort underway, and I think commissioners should continue to improve upon it by removing Financial Management Committee as an unnecessary step in the budget-setting process.

Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.