City administrator Angel Weasner admitted that city treasurer Jeremy Jude, who was in attendance at the workshop, resigned in September.
Weasner said she and Jude independently came to the same conclusion. âWe have very good workers who work very hard and diligently,â she said, âand we don’t have enough work for everyone.â
Rather than hiring an accountant to replace Jude, Weasner recommended dividing his duties among the rest of the city’s administrative staff.
âI would be considered the treasurer,â Weasner said. âThe city clerk would be involved; the assistant accountant-person responsible for invoicing utilities would do a little; accounts payable (clerk) would do a bit.
Weasner said she looked at the separation of accounting duties and planned it so that it did not raise any issues during the city audit. Staff will receive additional training so they can help each other, she said, but regular tasks will be distributed evenly.
Board member Tom Conway asked if this would create a conflict with Weasner’s role as a director. She said it wouldn’t, pointing out that she would still have the same limited spending power without council approval.
According to the state auditor, Weasner said, if the city clerk and treasurer are the same, the city is required to conduct an audit. However, she said, the city must already have an audit because its annual spending exceeds $ 500,000.
According to the Minnesota Office of the State Auditor’s “Current Audit Revenue Thresholds” web page, cities with populations over 2,500 should be audited annually. The audit threshold for cities with less than 2,500 inhabitants is an annual income greater than $ 233,000.
Weasner said she will be looking at payroll and accounts payable. âI’ve done a lot with the budget this year so it won’t be a surprise,â she said, adding that everyone will have the same tasks with a few additions.
Conway and Mayor Ryan Leckner discussed trying out the new arrangement to see if it works and seeking help if staff start to fall behind.
Weasner said the city is implementing a new financial system, which she hopes will build confidence and reduce the need for layoffs. She said the outgoing software left staff “wary”, for example, showing totally different results when running the same report two days in a row or not showing information included in a previous report.
Weasner said staff have caught up with accounting tasks.
Jude agreed that the new software should increase efficiency. He added that Weasner had taken over much of the budgetary duties of her post because she wanted to familiarize herself with the finances of the city.
âShe has a lot more experience in municipal finance than I have ever had,â he said. âSo she’s in a much better position to oversee and run the city’s finances anyway. So I think it would be honestly redundant to fill this position at this time. “
Jude said he left the post because he anticipated the city would have to make tough decisions about reducing staff or working hours.
âI felt when I started here that utility billing was a big deal,â he said. âThere have been a ton of overtime. We found out that with a really good person in that role, there was no overtime – and it was with a much crappy system than what we’re going to do. That’s kind of what motivated my personal decision.
Jude said the city now has some great people in accounting support roles who are always looking for more work to do. Weasner said she plans to add the new accounting duties to their job descriptions and give them temporary pay increases.
Conway said he would prefer the term “interim” over temporary, and board member Erika Randall asked why the increases would not be permanent.
Weasner explained that the increases would only be temporary until the next pay equity report and the city’s contract negotiations. Board members also reminded him that any temporary salary increase should be submitted to the staff and finance committees as well as to the board.