PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County commissioners are preparing to move onto “phase 2” of a plan to create a finance department.
Commissioners Bill Peach and Randy Johnson on Tuesday discussed a request concerning the reclassification of a fiscal specialist position and to authorize hiring a senior accountant that would work in the Auditor’s Office and under the chief financial officer.
Commissioners Mark Ozias was not present.
“The concept here in phase 2 is to ensure we put together a team concept between the Auditor’s Office and the [Board of County Commissioners],” said Interim Administrator Rich Sill.
“This gives us a good idea for how to put the two departments together and to try to eliminate as much as we can a single-point failure situation.”
He said this will allow more people to work on the county’s financials and will make it possible for people to act as backup when someone is out of the office.
The county’s first step in creating a finance department was the hiring of CFO Mark Lane in December.
An agenda item summary for the discussions said the Finance Department needs to be connected with the Auditors Office due to “legal accountability requirements of the auditor for the creation of the annual report and associated general ledger requirements existing under our current charter” and state law.
State law governing the duties of the Auditor’s Office “has been key in all parts of this discussion and everyone is aware of the duties that have to remain in the Auditor’s Office under state law,” said Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Elizabeth Stanley. “Just make sure we keep that in the forefront of everybody’s minds.”
Lane said the second phase accomplishes two goals, which are to ensure that the duties required under state law are performed in the Auditor’s Office and to provide the “extra bandwidth” so the county can work on higher level financial analysis.
Lane said the county has been missing financial vetting of assumptions that play into some decisions.
Lane said if he is able to clear his plate of the “day-to-day” transactions, he will then be able to focus on bigger issues and help analyze projects as they come up.
Johnson said one project he is focused on is the analysis of District Court 1 costs. A state law last year put an end to the court’s pay-or-appear program, costing the county an estimated $500,000.
Clallam County, the city of Sequim and the city of Port Angeles are now working on renegotiating the contract that allows the county to provide court services for the cities.
Johnson said he wants the finance department to be involved also as the county looks to move the Emergency Operations Center out of the basement of the courthouse.
“It’s a millions of dollars kind of decision that we have,” Johnson said. “The sheriff will be involved, the Finance Department and as far as I’m concerned, a lot of people in the county. That should be us working together to find out what’s best.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.