Franklin County’s financial officer duties are officially in the hands of Janet Paddock, who also serves as county clerk.
For most of the past year, Paddock performed many of the financial officer duties as assigned by Derek Brown, county administrator/counselor. The Board of Franklin County Commissioners Wednesday entered into a one-year, $25,000 contract with Paddock to assume the county’s financial officer role.
“She has been our de facto finance officer,” Brown said. “She has taken the initiative to do that. There is a lot of logic in having her do it. As administrator, when I need budget information, that is the office I call. She is the keeper of that.”
Brown, who took over as county administrator on an interim basis a year ago and as the full-time administrator/counselor in January, said part of the agreement between him and the commissioners was to hire a financial officer. Brown said he received applications this spring for the position, but none of applicants appeared to be a good fit for the county.
“In the meantime, Janet has been assisting me with a wide array of finance matters,” Brown said. “She assisted with the budget. That was one of many things.”
Paddock said the added responsibilities will not detract from her clerk duties or vice versa.
“It is not constant work all year,” she said. “It has its ups and downs, as does the clerk’s job. There will be times I will be putting more work in on the finance side...more hours than I am on the clerk side.”
Paddock, who was elected clerk in 2012, said the duties of each position are related in a variety of ways.
“The statutory duty of [the clerk’s] office is to pay the bills for the county,” she said. “That involves working with every department head and providing reports to them every month. How they are staying within their budget? ... When I took the elected position with the county, I felt strongly about serving the people of this community. There is definitely a need to provide some financing services. I have education surrounding that. I felt it was a natural transition to continue services and provide a little a bit more of extended services to our community.”
Brown said the financial officer duties include budget development, accounting, auditing, the development of long-range financial goals and other assigned duties.
Paddock said by taking on the financial officer role, it gives people a point person to contact when county financial information is needed.
“A lot of time I get these calls in my office anyways,” she said. “It is an added benefit for the [residents] of the county to be able to make contact with us and immediately get an answer and start the flow of the service to them. When the emails and calls come in, I can grab them at that point they enter the system and immediately start working on their problem or issue and get that solved a lot quicker. What this contract was about was efficiency and providing the best services for the least cost to our [residents] in the county.”
Brown said Paddock performed above and beyond in assisting with the 2018 budget this spring and summer. Commissioners Richard Oglesby and Rick Howard complimented her on how smooth the budget process went.
“Unless you work with them, you don’t know how they will function,” Oglesby said. “We saw how you functioned this last year going through the budget process. There is a lot to be said for that.”
Brown talked to Paddock about assisting him on the budget prior to accepting the administrator position.
“This was part of the plan,” he said. “I did not think I would have a finance officer by the time [of the budget]. The trust is there.”
Paddock said Brown, department heads and elected officials work well together.
“I worked hard to foster relationships with every department head and elected official and I will definitely continue to do that while I am helping them work on their budget,” Paddock said. “Derek is a great leader for our organization. We work well together and we rely on each other. He does not want to be hands off. He wants me to communicate all this [financial information] with him. We already have the lines of communication open. We will continue to push hard and do what is best for the county.”
Brown said this arrangement sends a good message to the organization and the taxpayers.
“What we are doing is utilizing the resources we have in the organization,” he said. “It is the most economical and efficient option. We combined the administrator and counselor. We have a clerk that is providing finance duties. It has worked [the past year]. We are getting done what we need to. The organization is moving forward. We are planning for long-term financial success.”