Simpson lays out county financial strategy

Saguache County Administrator Glen Simpson

SAGUACHE — Saguache County Administrator Glen Simpson sat down Monday to detail the plans he has for setting the county’s finances on a better footing and how he intends to instrument that strategy during the coming months.
Simpson has a strong financial background to build from — 20 years in the army as a financial go-to person and another 20 years with an Austin, Texas firm as their chief financial officer. He is a certified public accountant with a degree from Boston University.
Presently Simpson is concerned with getting through the 2018 audit process and collecting all the necessary county records it will take to do that. He began this process by speaking with the county’s former auditors Wall, Smith and Bateman. The county changed auditors before Simpson was hired in January and Simpson said he has been “debriefing them on the audit so we have a good starting place.”
He is just now learning the software system used for the county’s finances and is gathering data from the 2018 audit. Land Use Administrator Wendi Maez will continue to assist Simpson as an assistant county administrator through the auditing process, he said and has been “a tremendous asset” in gathering the needed information.
Auditors should arrive any time after the middle of April, Simpson noted, to begin their work. Simpson acknowledged that he wishes he had been able to better access the county’s accounting system and learn how it was used to arrive at the figures he is now dealing with. He is working toward developing a five-year budget plan for the county “which is what I am used to,” Simpson explained.
As positions become vacant in county offices, Simpson said he believes they should be filled in a timelier manner to help keep county business moving. He is working on that as well as providing adequate training for employees in all positions throughout the county, especially in the Public Health, Road and Bridge and Social Services Departments.
The departure of two key financial persons at Public Health made things difficult there, he said, and Road and Bridge has long had problems in keeping employees for their department. Social services also has suffered financial difficulties according to audits going back several years, he said.
Public Health Director David Daboll is retiring in March and Simpson looks forward to working with the new director once he is hired to get the department on a better footing. While he will make the accounting system the county is currently using work for this year, he commented, he will be looking into purchasing a better system that will help tie all the courthouses software systems together so they can share information with each other.
The system will need to be studied an approved first by commissioners he confirmed and money will have to be appropriated from next year’s budget first. But the advantages of such a system would greatly enhance the ability to pull county financial information together and place all departments — especially the treasurer’s office, the assessor’s office and administration on the same page with each other.
“I would like to see the treasurer’s office, the assessor and administration all on one software system because it provides better support and benefits and for cost saving purposes,” Simpson explained. This way the information can be formatted the way all departments need it and will need to be written only once.
Simpson added he has long experience at “adapting software systems one to the other” and even won a meritorious service medal for this sort of work during his time with the U.S. Army.
A meeting March 6 with county department heads will help determine other needs he must address, Simpson said and at that time he expects to work on the county personnel manual, which hasn’t been updated for several years.
Simpson generally expressed an eagerness to work with commissioners and county employees and help improve the work environment at the courthouse. He expressed a willingness to receive input and an overall business-like attitude.  Courthouse employees are hoping to work closely with him to improve their work environment, something a process they feel they had already begun with former administrator David Bitler, who left abruptly last year.

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