County bill paying under scrutiny

By Jeff Fox

Jackson County’s pattern of double-paying some regular bills while falling behind on others could affect operations, even on Election Day, according to County Legislature Chair Theresa Cass Galvin.

“It should not be that difficult for a daily bill to get taken care of,” she said at Monday’s County Legislature meeting attended by County Executive Frank White Jr. and several of his staff.

Galvin said legislators have raised this issue for several months but the problem persists.

“Since January we’ve had six bills that were duplicate paid, and these aren’t electric bills like we have at our homes,” she said. “These are like $16,000, $18,000, a water bill that was $43,000. … The invoice is being put in the system twice, and it’s being paid twice.”

The county has fallen behind on other bills, she said. The Jackson County Election Board building on the Independence Square has several floors and needs a working elevator for the public and for an employee in a wheelchair. Last week, Galvin said, the elevator stopped working and the company with the service contract said it couldn’t come out. There was a stop-service order because of lack of payment.

That’s a safety issue, Galvin said. On Tuesday, Galvin said the elevator was repaired over the weekend.

But other headaches could come up if some of the county’s bills aren’t getting paid and Election Day nears.

“If the Election Board loses electricity, they lose their phones – that will make national headlines,” she said.

She had asked for a report from White’s staff at next Monday’s Legislature meeting.

“There’s no excuse – no excuse. … Somebody has to be looking over this,” she said.

In April, the Legislature passed a vote of no confidence in Director of Finance and Purchasing Bob Crutsinger, though Galvin at the time stressed that it was not meant to focus on Crutsinger as much as it was to express frustration about getting complete and accurate information from the finance office. At that time, Galvin said she had been taking those concerns to White for a year.

It has become common in recent months for Galvin and sometimes other legislators to point out contradictions in the math contained in routine resolutions and ordinances – purchasing, contracts, other business – presented for legislative approval. Galvin said that’s part of the frustration. 

“Somebody needs to be held accountable,” she said Tuesday. “It’s not that I want people to get fired. I want this to get fixed.”