Why did I pick on Vanessa for her five year plan?



The reason is that it was more of a spending plan or wish list rather than being realistic about the Town of White Springs dire financial situation.   What I would have rather seen is information pertaining to what we have now and the solutions for problems:


She may have reviewed key documents but in most respect Cynethia reviewed the majority of information which was forwarded to the Town.  I know that staff found and organized documents because the documents have been in disarray for decades. Ordinances and resolutions kept with meeting minutes and no copies made separately and no records were placed in the correct areas.  This was an excellent move on the part of Staff to handle this disorganized mess of decades.


But my concern, especially after Vanessa George asked for such a large salary hike for a part time job, is whether she really has gone through the Town’s financial situation.  It is not up to Mr. Whitehead but is part of Ms. George’s duties and financials was listed much lower on her five year goals as a priority when it should have been first.  My question is if the money she was dealing with was her own money, would she be so eager to spend it when she had limited funds like the Town.


She is responsible for all of these, not Mr. Whitehead:

  • Current operating and capital budgets
  • Information on key programs and services
  • Comprehensive annual financial report
  • Organizational chart, staff roster and phone list • The organization’s primary planning documents
  • Map showing city boundaries, buildings and facilities
  • Mission statement and goals • Council rules/meeting procedures • Meeting minutes for last twelve months
  • Work program and significant staff reports from last twelve months
  • Human resource policies and other administrative policies
  • Facts about your city: population, form of government, incorporation date, number of employees, total budget, total debt, etc.
  • Check inventories however in White Springs the Town Attorney was hired for that task
  • List of governmental agencies providing services or impacting your organization
  • Calendar of important events


In White Springs, the Big Picture is the Town’s Finances which if not fixed, no goals may be achieved.  So I suggest that Ms. George spend more time reviewing what was done and what can be achieved in spite of our dire financials. A simple goal setting process is herein listed:


The basic idea is to start with the big picture and work to ensure that your day-today tasks relate back to that big picture. Periodically, you’ll want to look back at your goals and evaluate what you’ve accomplished, and decide what changes you want to make, if any.


 Step 1. Identify issues and needs   Before you can set goals, you have to come to some agreement on what needs to be done. As a group, come up with an overall list of issues and needs, including council members’ ideas and residents’ concerns. Narrow down that list to a workable number of problems and needs to be addressed.


 Step 2. Set goals:  Once you’ve developed a focused list of needs or problems, describe what you hope to do to eliminate each problem or meet each need. The goals you express may be both community goals and goals for your particular governing body to accomplish.


Step 3. Set objectives  Objectives are the specific short-term strategies to meet your goals. They are statements of accomplishments to reach within a specific time frame. By setting objectives, the council can focus on a series of realistic goals and can then determine the resources needed to accomplish them.


Step 4. Set priorities:  Setting priories is the most important step in the goal-setting process.  It did not appear Ms. George’s goals showed priorities and we have many pertaining to our financials at this time. Comprehensive goal setting results in more objectives to accomplish than is possible in the time available, so you’ve got to set priorities. Decide what areas need attention now and which ones can be delayed. A simple rating and ranking exercise can help you determine which areas are of highest concern.


Step 5. Start an action program:  Once you’ve decided on goal priorities, work with staff to develop specific programs and timelines to meet your goals.


 Step 6. Evaluate the results:  You’ll want to establish a formal process for evaluating goal progress. Are you reaching them? Are they still appropriate? Do any need to be dropped or altered


Budget basics The budget is one of the city’s strongest policy making tools. Spending guidelines reflect numerous policy decisions. The budget message can give a clear view of city policy on many issues. It describes in narrative form significant items in the budget, financial trends, and the policy implications.


 Setting policy through the budget is a continuous, yearlong process. It involves setting goals and establishing priorities. Public participation is critical to the budget process, and is required by law, because of the many policy decisions involved. Once a budget is adopted, the city manager is responsible for carrying out the budget and council members are responsible for monitoring program progress through periodic reports from staff and from the community.


 If programs are not effectively implementing policy decisions, revisions can be made.


The three types of budgets:


  • Operating budget – These funds are for delivering services like police, fire, and parks The operating budget enables you to set policy. When most people think about their Town’s budget, they’re referring to the operating budget. The operating budget is financed from the Town’s ongoing general revenue sources.


  • Utility services – These Town-provided services are separately funded through user fees and taxes. White Springs provide sewer/water as well as garbage services. And because Mr. Whitehead developed a budget for our previous town manager/independent contractor, there are many failures where the General Budget is commingled with the Enterprise Account/utility services and that is not the goal we should be achieving, but must work with it for the present.  If Ms. George can actually do the right things for the future year by not making the mistakes of the past it would be great, but her start doesn’t look good.  All that has been achieved is paying contractors through grants we have secured or been awarded before, defunding the police and securing the Sheriff’s department.  Yet because we lost grants we owe engineers and grant writers almost $50,000 which we the Citizens must Pay so we will keep using Utility Services funds until we can get out of the financial crunch as well as our Street and Road LOFT funds.



  • Capital budget – This budget determines what capital improvements will be bought or built over several years, and how they will be financed. This is where the Grants come in and where I once suggested that we should have the money for our portion of any grants from our retained earnings. When awarded a grant, our portion of the grant should be moved from the retained earnings portion as a liability to pay for our portion of the grant. The five year plan only spoke about what we wish in grants but never stated how we will pay for these grants when most of the time we will owe a portion of any grant awarded.



If Ms. George wants a five year contract she needs to redo her goals because as of now, it is only a wish list without any thought or consideration in getting the town out of a deficit.  And unfortunately our council has no clue how to handle or read finances so that they could assist in this matter.


Karin for the blog.