Friday, March 01, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-03-01 18:36:01)

Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Dear Editor:


On Feb. 12, 2013, The Newport Plain Talk published an article regarding the discussion of the County Financial Management System (CFMS) of 2013 being introduced this legislative session by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office. Rob Mathis has called and voiced his opposition to the bill. I have some concerns also, but I wanted to give your readers the reasons what and why this bill is being brought forth.

In some counties, you have the same accounting, budgeting, and purchasing functions being performed at the County Mayor level, the Highway Department, and the School Department…lots of duplication and inefficiencies. The CFMS is intended to provide county governments with a more modern, efficient, and comprehensive means of centralizing their accounting functions. The CFMS will also require counties to hire more qualified staff. Even the smallest counties in Tennessee are multi-million dollar operations that warrant competent financial management leadership.

Two accounting centralization models currently exist in Tennessee, the 1957 Fiscal Control Acts and the 1981 Financial Management Act. The CFMS is simply an upgrade to these Acts, the most current of which was passed 32 years ago. There are over 40 counties in the state operating under either the 1957 Act or the 1981 Act. There are over 40 counties that have no centralization at all. Cocke County is partially centralized under the 1957 Act. The County Mayor and Highway Department are centralized while the School Department maintains their own accounting records.

Contrary to statements made in last week’s article, the CFMS will NOT take the taxing authority away from the county commission, nor does it take any authority or responsibilities away from any county officials. The adoption of the CFMS may also result in fewer audit findings. Typically counties that have adopted total centralization have fewer audit issues. That is a good thing and certainly goes against the theory the CFMS will invite corruption.

As for the costs associated with implementing the CFMS, there will be some costs just like there were costs associated with Cocke County’s implementation of the 1957 Act. However, counties will hopefully recoup these expenses through the efficiencies associated with centralization.

The CFMS is permissive. Counties do not have to adopt it. It would require a two thirds majority of the county commission to implement the Act. It may not be for all counties. The CFMS may not be for Cocke County. However, the CFMS is a necessary upgrade to existing financial management models that needs to be available for counties to adopt if they so choose.

The CFMS should be a step forward, not a step back. I want what is best for Cocke county and I would love to hear from each one of you as to what you feel is needed for our county. Please feel free to call me at my office: 615-741-6871


State Rep. Jeremy Faison

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