May 16—The newly hired county finance officer met with the Geary County Commission at its meeting May 9 to discuss funds after she discovered funds were being miscoded since the department switched payroll software this year.
Tami Robison, finance officer as of March, found that additional compensation fees which were supposed to be paid out of the auto special fund were instead paid out of the county's general fund. During the meeting, Robison said she was unsure how long this had been occurring, but on Friday, she said she discovered after the Monday meeting that the funds were coded incorrectly for a total of only three payrolls.
"We switched our payroll vendor, so when we did, it was being coded the same way as it was before, but before, when they were using ADP, they were making manual entries going into the financial system, because the two can't interface," she said. "They were taking that code and they were correcting it into the financial system."
Robison said when they switched vendors, staff members were no longer making those manual corrections. Now that she is aware of the problem, she said the department is fixing it so the funds will be logged as coming through the correct department.
"It is in this year that we're fixing it, so it's not creating a statute violation — we are preventing it — because it's in the same year," she said. "We are going to do a journal entry to fix it, and that way, when we get to the end of the year when we're finished with our financials, it'll be accurate."
Robison said the additional compensation for the treasurer is calculated based on the number of registrations that come in, so it must be paid out of the auto special fund.
Commissioner Trish Giordano said oversights are a main reason she felt a finance officer was necessary for the county.
"This is exactly why I felt that this position was needed, because you know the statutes and you know the way things are supposed to be run, and we are responsible for taxpayer money," Giordano said at the meeting.
Additionally, Robison said she will be making a change to the budgeting process for paying employee benefits. The county's previous process involved paying employee benefits from an employee benefits fund. Robison said Friday that she is working with County Treasurer Sherri Childs and the payroll clerk to ensure all employee benefits come out of each employee's department. This way, they can do away with the employee benefit fund altogether.
"Because of that, these different departments that pay salaries are going to have to be able to absorb those costs in their budgets, which means we have to increase the budgets," she said.
Robison said the motor vehicle fund is fee-funded, but the department's employee benefits have been paid out of the employee benefit fund and not as a reimbursed cost like other fee funds. She said they are adjusting that to come through the auto special fund as well.
With the department's employee costs now coming out of motor vehicle expenses, Robison said the department does not have enough funds for the number of salaries it is meant to fund. She said since the fees stay stagnant, the department cannot absorb the additional costs.
"They don't have enough funds to pay for all the services, and the state's not helping fund very much," she said. "They need to pay us more fees, but they're not doing that, so all of these are kind of a domino effect on ad valorem tax dollars, because we're funding things that are actually a state service."
Robison said the net effect of the problem is that some salaries will have to come out of the treasurer fund because the auto special fund just doesn't have enough money to fund it.
"There are several places where the state no longer funds us, and now the county just has to fund it because it's a county service or something the state requires," she said.
Commissioner Keith Ascher said at the meeting that the commission should send the legislators a letter about the situation. Giordano agreed. Ascher said they should find out how much the county is subsidizing what the state doesn't pick up and add those numbers to the letter.
"When you're looking at trying to cut taxes and the citizens are looking to you to cut the taxes or to keep them flat, either way, when you have these kinds of burdens, it makes it very difficult," Robison said. "Just letting the public know that some of the burden that they bear in order to pay these costs are even beyond a local level that we're required to help fund."