Council Approves Finance Hire

BLYTHEWOOD (Aug. 25, 2016) – When the Town of Blythewood brought its accounting duties in-house earlier this year and purchased the software to do so, the expectation was that the Town would save around $80,000 a year. But Monday night, Town Administrator Gary Parker told Council that the accounting duties were too much for a single person to handle and recommended the hire of an administrative assistant in the finance department.

“We thought we were going to save $80,000 a year, roughly, by adding the accounting software,” Councilman Tom Utroska said during Monday’s Town Council meeting. “Of course, as usual they (software company) over-promised and the results under-performed and it takes more people. Instead of saving roughly $80,000, we’re going to save somewhere around $40,000. At least we hope.”

Parker said the original plan when purchasing the accounting software was to hire a finance director. The salary for the position, he said, would have been around $72,000, including benefits. That salary, plus the $7,500 a year maintenance costs of the software, would have virtually wiped out any real savings. Parker and Council later dropped the idea of hiring a finance director, Parker said, and instead put the accounting and finance duties on Chris Keefer, the Town’s Finance/HR Assistant.

“Well that was completely unrealistic,” Parker told Council. “It’s impossible for any one person to do all those things by herself.”

Parker said the Town would now shell out $40,000 in salary and benefits for an administrative assistant in finance.

“The bottom line is we thought we were going to save $80,000,” Utroska said. “To make it work, instead of saving $80,000 a year, hopefully we’re going to save $40,000. And I say hopefully, because these accounting programs unfortunately usually over-promise and under-produce. It’s a fact of life, when you buy something like this they tell you it’s going to work in a certain way, you really need to take it with a grain of salt, and maybe more than a grain.”

But Parker said the software itself was working well. The problem was the workflow.

“To be fair to the software, the software has worked,” Parker said, “but the tasks to bring accounting in-house are much more than any one person can handle.”

In his memo to Council dated Aug. 22, Parker said Keefer has had HR and finance duties as part of her job for the past several years. With the transition of accounting in-house, more extensive and detailed finance duties have been added, including accounts payable, general ledger accounting and payroll. This is in addition, Parker wrote, to Keefer’s work with the Doko Meadows Foundation Committee, scanning and filing administrative documents, and website and social media tasks, among others.

“There’s no sense belaboring it,” Utroska said. “Unfortunately, we’re going to have to go with it.”

Council voted 5-0 to approve the position.