Financial Management Committee approves research into 10 years of employee bonuses

During Monday’s Financial Management Committee meeting, commissioners debated Commissioner Mike Hill’s request to begin researching 10 years of financial records in order to construct sound policy regarding bonuses.

The request is a continuation of talks after Planning Chairman Jerry Pearman sent a letter to the Finance Department back in August asking for a $14,466.67 bonus.

“I, as chair, felt that four years should have been sufficient, but in his explanation to the full county commission, his original request of 10 should be honored,” Chair of the committee Brad Johnson said.

Hill has said in previous meetings he requested 10 years so the records can go through different administrations and Finance Directors.

The first bit of difficulty in such a process is in the time-frame itself.

Finance Director Brad Burke said they technically use two different computer systems to keep track of county finance records.

Skyward, their current system, has been in use since January of 2015.

“It is easier to look these things up,” Burke said.

Skyward is basically a fancier version of Microsoft Excel, with tables and drop-down menus and notes for certain columns. If there is a discrepancy between totals, often there will be a note on the specific value explaining why the number is what it is.

For anything older than that, however, employees need to boot up Bridge, a DOS-based system that looks like the command prompt on much older computers. It displays minimal information on its own beyond the surface-level, requires printing out each document in order to read the finer details, and has no notation function to clarify odd-looking figures.

“It is going to be extensive,” Johnson said about the Bridge records. “You are going to have to go through each individual one. They are not specifically recorded as a bonus.”

Burke said pulling records from Skyward would be relatively straight-forward, but Bridge, with its printing requirements and the need to cross-reference with other sources to determine which records are bonuses and which are not, could take much longer.

“The four years can be done by the next Financial Management meeting,” Burke said. In contrast, pulling the rest of the records, he said, could take several months, at least.

This is compounded by a lack of experience using Bridge amongst the staff. While some current employees used Bridge in the past, it was only for specific tasks, and Burke said he has little to no experience with Bridge whatsoever.

As a result of this potential time-sink, Commissioner Austin Jaynes suggested going ahead and compiling the four years of Skyward data to next month’s Financial Management meeting, so the committee and Hill have something to look at initially, and then they can come back later once the Bridge data comes through.

“It is going to take us several months to try to ponder over everything we get and process it,” Jaynes said.

The motion passed unanimously.

The next Financial Management Committee meeting is currently scheduled for Monday, Nov. 4, at 8:30 a.m. All commission meetings are open to the public to attend.

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