At the January 10th Special Meeting, Interim Town Manager Tommie Jones provided a feedback on his experiences in the two months plus he has been the Town Manager.
Mr. Jones has made Town Hall more secure in that he has changed the locks with keys which cannot be duplicated plus placed an internal key to the server room so it cannot be accessed
The Town Manager’s office’ lock was not changed but when he came in Thursday not only was the Manager’s office open but the doors to the financial information opened. Now the keys are in his office with a keyless entry. He stated that we are all adults and we need to quit playing games.
Mr. Jones stated that Stacy Tebo provided no Training (which was not her responsibility except to provide him with the items which are open and all contacts which she did not) and he lost his finance/Town Clerk for 12 weeks.
The File cabinet became damaged and was replaced. He still was determined to handle his duties and he made certain all overall services including payroll was handled and he kept the lights on at Town hall.
After we had ordered the applications for the White Springs Staff, apparently Mr. Jones also looked into the experience of each of the staff members. He feels that people need to be assigned to the correct jobs based upon their skill set.
Mr. Jones indicated that reviewed each of the applications and except for one, none had the appropriate education. That person who he mentioned had an Associates in Arts Degree from Lake City Community College was Yvonne Bryant, who obviously could possibly handle another position other than the one she has. But what was stated in the application was that she attended Community college from 1974 to 1976 to secure a “Clerical” vocation. If the problem is not having someone handle the financial director’s position, it may not be that Ms. Bryant has accounting and finance experience. Initially she receiving her GED from Hamilton County High School, Jasper Florida. Yvonne had a long period of employment with the Clerk of Courts as Deputy Clerk, Criminal Division from March of 1996 to March of 2015. Although she retired in 2015 as you are all aware, she is the Administrative Assistant after Anita Rivers left. Yvonne also worked at White Springs Elementary and Stephen Foster Center, the latter of which she was an Administrative Secretary from January to December handling clerk typest and word processing. Initially I suggested that Tommie interview each of the staff members and discuss their plans for the future and what they like and dislike. That still needs to be done.
He said he tries to help them and apparently they do not appreciate what he is doing.
One female employee stated he deleted information from her computer. He was also told that she refused his requests by stating it was not her job. All he tries to do is assist her and this is the thanks he receives. It has become a hostile working environment with always something happening per Jones and he is working with the Florida League of Cities in the Employment Law office for the assistance he requires.
Mayor Miller said no EMPLOYEE should have to work under those conditions and that includes the Town Manager and she expressed her sorrow that he had to endure that. Mr. Jones indicated that he has had to endure complaints every other day about volunteers and he has been bullied and harassed on the job. Then she was sobbing that it wasn’t her job when she was asked to take Beverly’s place.
Mr Jones also provided some Proposed bookkeeping controls and enhancements which Mike Whitehead at J & S provided. Bookkeeping will be done in accordance with the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.
Currently payroll goes through the First Federal account by means of utilizing Quick Books. However, currently, it is first placed in the General Ledger and then Quick books so there is double work which needs not to be done per Mr. Jones.
On Monday Mr. Jones received a call from the bank, First Federal, that the Town was $32,000 *I think that amount should have been $3,200 since the $45,000 is paid up front instead of monthly and only the December payment had not been mad) overdrawn. We receive $45,000 from Hamilton County entitled County Funds A & B Bonds on the Wastewater Treatment Plant Loan which Bob Farley secured of $1,200 per month or $48,000 a year to the US Department of Agriculture. Apparently it took an associate at First Federal a couple of days to figure the matter out. $ 45,000 was put in December 17th, 2018 and on December 26, 2018 it was done. In 2019 we did not pay in December. Another Sinking Account had been closed.
Tommie Jones, it would have made your life easier if you had studied at least three years of financials so that you could determine what needed to be paid, what funds are used, etc and then pulling the appropriate files instead of randomly receiving phone calls like this and you not knowing what someone is talking about. I have to admit, that was the first thing Stacy Tebo reviewed, not saying she did a better job, but she was not trained either. We know this because Stacy requested this information from Joe Griffin before starting her position. Although that initial budget was done by Shirley Heath the interim term manager, Shirley did not have the education or skills to implement finances.
Mr. Jones stated that $45,000 has been coming in every year and $88,158 was held last year in September but he needs to check where the money went by finding that check.
Apparently Pam has not reconciled bank accounts for years with the abundance of bank statements left on her desk which Beverly Brazil attested to the huge pile.
Mr. Whitehead just shakes his head at our financials and has provided nine pages for now for which the council can review regarding what needs to be implemented.
Mr. Jones has just been approved for a Department of Environmental Protection Certification so that monthly reports may be made on water sampling. Although the water is improving, Ray Vaughn is going to coordinate the DEP Sample levels.
Mayor Miller asked our Interim Town Manager whether he is still soliciting CPA’s. Mr. Jones stated he spoke to the City of Hawthorne and they have sent us three neames which we can contact.
Tommie Jones then spoke about how understaffed White Springs is. Although he is set to work four hours a day, he puts in 6-7 hours a day.
He feels we need equipment which will fold our utility service bills instead of stuffing envelopes by hand or a post card was suggested. Since we always include other notices and letters, the cost of equipment would, in my opinion, far outweigh someone stuffing envelopes. I watched the young lady who sat at Ms. Bryant’s desk stuffing the water bills and I have to tell you, she was speedy and did it right. You do not have to fold each piece of paper. Take a group and press down or take a ruler across them, and then pull each out and stuff the envelopes which this young lady did rapidly…and she was a volunteer.
He has stated that employe3es are saying it is not their job when he asks someone to do something in another area. Under government jobs, we currently have a charter and some forms of job descriptions which stipulate what each employee does. In Government, if one requests an employee to do another job which exceeds what their job description depicts, they would expect a higher grade level and more money. That doesn’t happen in the private sector and Tommie Jones apparently is more used to the Private Sector’s manner of doing something or the Prison System.
Mr. Jones said we need an office manager, but such is not appropriate under the Government Charter. Instead we should have always retained a Town Clerk separate of our bookkeeper which is required by the Charter. The Town Clerk then fills in for the Manager who is the office manager, under our charter which can be changed by Charter Amendment so that perhaps a Town Clerk can handle all employees….but that now is the duty of the Town Manager. Mr. Jones has indicated his abilities to handle staff members as a supervisor but apparently his current method is not working in White Springs for some reason. Someone gave her notice.
Mr. Jones also said the average Salary in White Springs is $10 an hour and even if he approaches a tech firm, an Office Manager with the appropriate skills would require $40,000 plus.
Mayor Miller asked Mr. Jones to see what we could do on a temporary basis to hire someone and asked that he work on it now for Tuesday’s meeting. The Florida League of Cities would have some information on the duties.
Karin for the blog