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Dr. Hale questions fairness of 81 Act
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Warren County Commissioners will get their first look at the Policies and Procedures Manual that will govern the county’s new financial department next month. It was approved in committee, but not unanimously.
Financial Management Department director Linda Hillis presented the manual to members of the Financial Management Committee on Wednesday night.
It was approved 4-1. Commissioners Herschel Wells, Carl Bouldin and Terry Bell, as well as Road Superintendent Levie Glenn, voted for the measure. Warren County Director of Schools Dr. Jerry Hale gave the only dissenting vote.
“I think all departments should be treated the same,” Hale said.
The area of contention in combining the financial departments of the county, school system and highway department lies in the bid limit. That’s the maximum amount a department can spend without committee approval.
While the highway department is allowed a $10,000 limit by state law, county government and schools are only given a $5,000 limit.
“I will say this up front,” said Hale. “I think our bid limit should be $10,000. Why should Bobby operate under $5,000, but Levie not?”
Hale is retiring at the end of this school year. Bobby Cox is his replacement.
“I want us all to operate under the same rules,” said Cox.
Commissioner Wells added, “The county’s ambulance service operates by the $5,000 limit.”
The Highway Department operates under a $10,000 limit by state statute. While the county could increase the other department’s expenditure limit, it cannot decrease the highway department’s.
“I don’t want to be put on a pedestal or treated like we are special,” said Glenn. “It’s the uniform road law that allows the highway department a $10,000 limit. That’s by state statute.”
Warren County Executive John Pelham says the committee can revisit the situation as a later date and make changes, if any need to be made.
“We need to get this on next month’s agenda,” Pelham said.
A new accounting department is required under terms of the 81 Act, a measure county officials voted to adopt in June. It must be in place by July 1 and ready to handle payroll for more than 1,000 employees in the county, school system and highway department.
The manual will be presented to the full Warren County Commission for its consideration during its Feb. 20 meeting.