Mansfield officials have big plans for the city, and they hope they’ll be able to make more progress with a clearer financial picture after approving Monday a $1.07 million budget for 2014.
One of the first steps will be to get a more accurate financial picture by hiring a full-time city treasurer/accountant to manage the city’s finances and get it back on track.
The budget was approved four months behind schedule; Mansfield operates on a calendar budget year, meaning the budget would normally be approved prior to January. Councilman Matt Clark, who didn’t take office until January, was credited with handling much of the budget preparation.
The city has budgeted for a treasurer at a salary between $40,000-$50,000; the job is already posted and interim Mayor Jeff Riley said the city had already received six applications for the position.
Even at $40,000, the treasurer would be the city’s highest paid employee. City Clerk Jamie Ruark makes $31,798, while the two full-time public works employees make $29,888 and $26,023 respectively.
Residents had asked questions about paying both a clerk and treasurer, but Riley said after Monday’s meeting the council feels both are needed at this time. He said the city’s charter allows the city to either hire a clerk who handles financial duties or to hire both a clerk and a separate treasurer.
Riley said the city needs to get a better handle on its finances as evidenced by the fact the budget is four months late and the city council hasn’t received any monthly financial statements for more than a year. The city has had delays and issues converting from a paper financial bookkeeping and billing system to Black Mountain, a computer software system.
The delayed conversion was a constant source of frustration for council members in 2013, leading to disagreements over simple purchases like replacing a broken lawn mower and more significant issues like how the city will be able to fund future payments for the expansion at nuclear Plant Vogtle, which Mansfield owns a share in through the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.
As for the budget itself, the city’s largest expense by far is $570,778 to purchase electricity, plus an additional $50,000 the city is planning to set aside in 2014 to pay for additional electricity costs when the new Plant Vogtle nuclear units – 3 and 4 – come online in future years. Councilman Marty Smallwood said previously the city could have to pay more than $5 million in new costs for those nuclear units, though the city has set aside some money previously and still has couple more years to save money.