The Public Service Authority passed their first real budget Wednesday since the financial fallout and the firing of the executive director for financial fraud discovered last spring.
The new executive director, Joey Cason, who replaced the interim director Wesley Davis, now leads the PSA as of three weeks ago.
Cason presented the budget to the PSA Board which has an overall expenditure of over $3.19 million. Cason told AllOnGeorgia-Camden this budget will be their baseline budget, a “fix it” budget, moving forward since the financial fallout under the former executive director, William Brunson, who was charged with two felony counts of wire fraud for purchasing vehicles.
Before Wednesday’s meeting, AllOnGeorgia-Camden sat down with the new director, Joey Cason, and the county attorney, John Myers, to discuss the financial recovery of the PSA.
Cason’s immediate correction is the maintenance and beautification of the parks and facilities. The neglect of the parks has become unsafe and has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve the safety and aesthetics of the facilities.
“I am a weeds guy. Simple maintenance and beautification is something we should go ahead and start doing, and we are,” said Cason. “People will be started noticing this consistently. We are working on cleaning weeds and parks that I think will ultimately appreciate.”
Cason told AllOnGeorgia-Camden that there will be a real budget proposed and he clarified that he has not seen one in the past from previous management.
“I have not seen a hardcore hard copy budget in the past. I am sure there was one, but I have not seen it. It is going to be an actual and properly coded budget. Our accounting system will mirror the local county government’s accounting standards moving forward which are required for state agencies. It will be a true and proper budget,” explained Cason.
Cason was also asked if a citizen wanted to review the budget and look for athletic equipment repairs or replacement, where could they find such a budgeted expense? Cason said the budget will now have clearly defined areas and categories that show how much money is needed to make decisions.
A county finance employee, well-versed in Government Accounting Principles, Nancy Gonzales, has been assigned to transition the PSA into a sounder financial organization and expects to continue working with the PSA until further notice.
The PSA is moving toward bringing someone in under the organization’s structure as their own financial person, but Gonzales expects to stay on in the interim.
The goal of the budget process, according to Cason, will have revenue neutral processes put in place from each division within the PSA in the future.
In the past, the budget was only being funding at 85 percent and now the PSA looks to correct with more financial guidance from the county.
Changing things up –
Cason said that each city and county finance director will take on the role of signing off on budget requests and expenditures from the PSA executive director. Cason believes this will create a system of checks and balances that was missing under the former director. Each finance director will rotate the job out yearly as defined in a future Memorandum of Understanding.
Cason also has a plan to move to an open process to inform the public of the PSA Board’s operations. One of the improvements is to put in place a purchasing order policy.
“There will not be any gray area there. If you wanted to come in and look at hour purchasing policy, you can have it,” said Cason. The new director also has told the division heads within the PSA to justify their divisional budgets moving forward with a revenue-neutral explanation, as such a process was not in place under former executive William Brunson.
Signatures on the checks will be signed off by the PSA’s designated finance person which will be a finance director from each city/county that will rotate yearly in overseeing expenses, but that relationship must be approved in a future agreement.
“I want there to be no appearance of any possibility of where we were at,” explained Cason. “I do not want what happened to ever happen again.”
County attorney, John Myers, said all policies will be subject to PSA Board approval and the new PSA director is working to present a new Memorandum of Understanding for all municipalities in the county.
AllOnGeorgia-Camden asked if the School Board will be apart of the PSA Board, currently, they are not, but the school district uses significant aspects of PSA’s facilities, particularly Chris Gilman Stadium, the Rec-Center pool, and baseball/softball fields.
“I can’t say that it is not a bad idea. We need to bring as many of those stakeholders to the table and have a sit-down meeting,” Cason said. Cason also stated he plans to discuss this information with School Superintendent Will Hardin.
Strategic Plan and PSA Website –
Cason looks to develop a strategic plan along with other communications such as posting board meeting times and board meeting minutes. Cason wants to use the county’s strategic plan model for the PSA citing that the county has received numerous governmental awards on best practices.
The PSA’s website does not currently mention board meeting times or minutes. Cason hopes to change that for the public placing those items on the website along with registering for recreational sports online.
By the end of the next budget cycle (end of June 2019), Cason hopes to implement some aspects of a strategic plan moving forward and giving annual reports to locally elected officials.
Cason also seeks out best practices from other regional recreation departments, such as Lowndes County. Community involvement looks to be a mainstay in developing a common mission and vision for the PSA’s future strategic plan, according to Cason.
“We need to get consensus among our community of what we want out of the PSA,” said Cason. “Do we want all of these separate football fields or do we want a centralized park? Those are the kinds of things we will be looking at.”
The Audit –
County attorney John Myers said that the GBI, with the help of auditors, has completed a forensic-type audit. The District Attorney’s office is currently reviewing the audit. Currently, the county had to renegotiate over $1.5 million in payroll tax liens with the IRS for a reduction to about $500,000. The first negotiated IRS payment of $100,000 is to be made in October according to past public county commission meetings.
Past practices –
Currently, the PSA is being paid by the three cities and the county out of a population budget formula instead of a tax digest formula. Kingsland, for the 2018 budget cycle, voted to pay using a tax digest model as opposed to the other local municipalities. The new PSA director looks to review that policy in a new agreement.
AllOnGeorgia-Camden knows that past budget practices, particularly with football equipment and budgeting, has been suspect by the former director. A budget for football helmet reconditioning could not be determined in the past and it is not known if the equipment has been sent off in the past for reconditioning as there was no budget to determine if this was completed.
AllOnGeorgia-Camden has asked when the last time helmet reconditioning was completed, and we are currently awaiting an answer on those that issue from the PSA.
Other related items. –
- SPLOST 8 discussion – The new executive director Joey Cason presented a list of projects totaling about $2.7 million that needed to be addressed if there should be a new SPLOST 8 approved by the voters next year which includes a complete upgrade to Catfish Park in Kingsland.
- Memorandum of Understanding – Split funding – County attorney John Myers requested that a large work session between the county, the three cities, and the school board should be worked out to discuss a new agreement of how to fund the PSA moving forward. The discussion will include if PSA will be funded through the current population formula or the tax digest formula.
- Contract reviews with the Gymnastics, the pool used by Boomers Swim Team, and Soccer Club- PSA executive director Cason wants to renegotiate the contracts with the club sports as they are not official programs of the PSA. Currently, none of the teams pay a fee to use the facilities.
More information will be discussed in another article concerning PSA funding agreements and funding of programs.
Below is a link to the proposed budget for the PSA –
(The budget linked was amended and does not reflect the one that was voted on, however, the items in the budget stayed the same. Some salary information changed).
Video of 9/26/18 meeting –