The Finance Department pays bills.
Those bills are in support of the operations of county general, board of education, and the highway department. Some bills are routine expenses reoccurring monthly. Some expenses are quarterly, some are paid once per year. All bill payments are made through the finance department following the consolidation that went into effect Aug. 1, 2020.
Each time an invoice comes through, finance staff are charged with verifying the appropriateness of the expense and that proper documentation has been provided to support the payment. All expenses must fit into the budget as approved by the County Commission.
Finance also looks at the expense from a big picture perspective. Is there a less expensive way to source the same product? Is the vendor serving the customer (county government) well? Is the expense absolutely necessary? How does the expense fit into a long term plan to meet operational needs?
Recently, the finance department recommended to the budget committee that two loans be paid off early. After reviewing the proposal, the budget committee recommended the early payoff to the County Commission. At the Oct. 3, 2020, commission meeting the motion was approved to pay off early the remaining balances of a $225,000 general obligation capital outlay note and a $265,000 capital outlay note. The total amount due on the two loans was $208,202.15.
Paying off the loans early saved $13,434 in interest costs.
With the prepayment of those two notes, the County has just two other debt instruments on its books. $4,167,000 remains to be paid on older board of education borrowing that completes in 2026. Currently, a $2 million board of education school roof refurbishment project is underway. The loan on that project matures in 2032.
The Finance Department, as part of its daily operations, stays apprised on interest rate trends to confirm that the County is paying the lowest available interest rate on debt instruments. Both board of education notes are currently set up with variable interest rates.
Looking into the future, finance staff regularly runs budgeting scenarios for various departments – for both operational plans and capital outlay needs. Currently, staff are assisting board of education by estimating costs associated with school operations under a variety of scenarios. The finance department does not take a position on those plans. It provides the data to the various department heads, committees, and boards for their consideration and decision making.
The Finance Department pays bills small and large. Sometimes for just a few dollars. Sometimes for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Care, accuracy and insight are integral to all spending.
Originally published in the Cannon Courier, Oct. 21, 2020