County votes to ease oversight of spending

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Elbert County is still not out of the financial woods, but easing restrictions on spending by department heads is in the county’s best interest, according to County Commissioner Robert Rowland.

In a 2-1 vote June 26, the Board of County Commissioners increased spending limits for all county department heads from $2,000 to $10,000, with the exception of public works, which would be increased to $15,000.

Rowland said the move does not affect strict budget control measures put into place earlier this year, but rather increases county efficiencies.

“We hire our department heads to make the day-to-day things happens,” explained Rowland. “A $2,000 limit really handcuffs these folks from doing their jobs.”

Before, purchases that exceeded the county spending limit of $2,000 would have to be held and brought before the commissioners for a vote.

Rowland said large-ticket items such as fuel regularly exceed the limit, and departments such as public works could operate more efficiently without so many administrative encumbrances.

“This doesn’t affect the strict budget control measures we’ve put into place,” Rowland said. “Each department head is required to sit down with the financial director for a monthly budget review — to micromanage our department heads is counterproductive.”

District 3 Commissioner Larry Ross disagrees.

Ross underscored the county’s frail financial situation, suggesting that a county purchase order system would be more appropriate.

The measure was passed by a 2-1 vote, with Rowland and Kurt Schlegel in favor and Ross dissenting.

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