Departments’ 2020 budgets didn’t reflect CARES Act reimbursements

Board of Commissioners, News
CARES Act reimbursements

BLUE RIDGE, Ga: Several county departments never received their CARES Act reimbursement funds in 2020 despite the county having the money.

Chairman Jamie Hensley addressed the matter during the February 9, 2021 meeting, stating that at least one department was showing over by 175 percent.

“Unbeknownst to the commissioners, I can honestly say that they really didn’t know. This is something that we just found out,” Hensley said.

These departments spent funds from their capital outlay budgets to safely maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state gave Fannin CARES Act funds specifically for coronavirus-related improvements.  T

The departments’ financials weren’t changed to reflect the addition of the CARES Act. The money went into the general fund account. Board of Commissioners needed to move a line item to demonstrate that these departments weren’t grossly overbudget.

“We’re not actually putting money back into their budget. It’s all in one pot like in the general fund. It’s just going to be a reflection of the actual budget line-item number,” County Clerk and Interim CFO Sherri Walker explained.

Outgoing Chairman Stan Helton and resigned Chief Financial Officer Robin Gazaway never met with Hensley before he assumed office. The CFO resigned before he took office. As a result, no one explained the reasoning for leaving the money in the general fund and not updating departments’ budgets.

Fannin Board of Commissioners also discussed Whitepath.

Hensley asked the department heads for all their receipts to accurately adjust, monitor, and reimburse their COVID-19 expenses. Presently, at least five departments need their budgets to be made whole from 2020.

Post One Earl Johnson

Post One Earl Johnson wanted to know why the CARES Act reimbursement money sat in the general fund.

“We applied for that to receive COVID funding to do all those things. All we’re doing is using the money for what it was intended for, not to beef up the general fund account. I have no idea why or how it happened,” Post One Earl Johnson stated, “I think all of these budgets, in my opinion, need to be made whole for expenditures that were caused by COVID because we got federal funds to do so.”

Post Two Glenn Patterson echoed that sentiment.

To prevent a similar situation from happening in the future, Hensley suggested setting up a separate account for such funds as the CARES Act. With an established account, the county can know the exact amount remaining or if a department needs reimbursement.

County Attorney Lynn Doss added that legally Fannin needs a file that documents all COVID-19 expenses in case of a future audit.

The board agreed to get all the receipts together before making a motion to approve moving the money.

They’re in the process of interviewing for a new CFO and human resources person.

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