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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Commissioners Probe Salary Policies of Property Appraiser

“Past procedures have created an over-budget situation in payroll account,” Sharon Cox By Sid Riley

It all apparently started when a Department of Revenue audit of the Property Appraiser’s books revealed an over-budget situation in the “Personnel Services” portion of the departmental budget. In order to comply with the DR instructions and properly correct this problem, Mrs. Cox wrote a letter to the Commission requesting approval of the transfer of $40,706 between line items in the budget to correct the shortfall. The request was put on the agenda for the meeting held on Tuesday, November 10.

After Mrs. Cox had taken the podium and made her request, the Commissioners began to probe into the situation to determine the cause of the overpayments in payroll.

Commissioner Stephens: If these differences existed in previous years and have accumulated, how did your budget balance in those years?

Cox: “These were small differences which accumulated.”

Commissioner Spires: “This accumulation of overspending is in payrolls. Have you given raises above the approved amounts during these years?”

Cox: “Some of this is due to duties realignments.”

Commissioner Lockey: “ Did this problem arise because this year you filled all of your positions, while in previous years you had unfilled positions which were funded anyway, so you could use that money to provide the money needed to cover raises. Then when all positions were filled that money was no longer available, but you had to maintain the salaries and thus caused the overage?”

Cox: “Yes”

Spires: “I would like to take some key personnel in your department and see what increases have been given over the past few years, say for position #2 on your list which has a current pay level of $55,272. Would it be possible for you to provide that information?”

Cox: “Yes, many of these situations were created before I became head of the office, but I realize I am now responsible.”

Spires: “I would like to examine the requested information before we vote on this matter. I move we table the issue until next meeting, after we have had the opportunity to review the matter further.” The motion to table was seconded and passed unanimously.

It would appear that this problem relates to the previously discussed problem of non disclosure of salaries, raises, and bonus payments among constitutional officers through utilization of lump budgeting for payroll accounts.

Stay Tuned…..

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