By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Sept. 4, 2013 — In the recently published audit of the Fiscal Court, one of the major complaints was a delay in paying claims.
The report noted 10 invoices totaling $110,968 that were not been paid within the required 30-day time limit.
Judge-Executive Charles Wallace believes that report did not consider important mitigating factors when evaluating the turnaround on claims.
“There are a lot of issues with claims being submitted on time that the auditors didn't really account for in their report,” said Wallace.
According to established procedures, claims need to be submitted by the last working day of the month in order to be prepared for the Fiscal Court's approval during their regular monthly meetings.
“The reason we moved the regular meeting to the third Tuesday of the month was to allow enough time for the claims to come in so we can pay them in a timely manner,” said Wallace.
Despite an end-of-month cutoff, vendors and departments usually are afforded a five-day grace period to allow for unforeseen delays.
Even with the extra time, however, Wallace's office staff says that a number of claims don't get submitted in time for the Court's consideration.
“We've asked departments to submit bills on a weekly basis but we don't always get them that regularly,” said Nancy Henderson.
According to staff member Chassi Diamond, improperly filed purchase order also can cause delays in the submission of claims to the Fiscal Court.
“When a department wants to make a purchase, they are supposed to contact our office in advance for a purchase order number. That number has to be included on any claim submitted to us,” said Diamond. “If a bill comes to our office without a PO number, we can't pay it.”
Wallace echoed that statement, adding that one of the main reasons the purchase order system is in place is to ensure that departments have enough funds available for purchases before placing orders with their vendors.
“When we get bills for items that haven't been pre-approved with a PO number and those departments don't have the money available, we have to transfer funds into those accounts,” said Wallace.
The judge-executive and his office staff stressed that they make every effort to make sure that claims are submitted to the Fiscal Court in a timely manner and will continue emphasizing the submission deadlines with county departments and outside vendors.
Joe Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 286-4201.