Purchasing, human resources keep county rolling
by Jessica Loeding
Aug 24, 2012 | 2171 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jan Hill, payroll clerk, from left; Marla Coggins, assistant HR director; Sam Southern, HR director; Diane Geisen, benefits clerk; and Karon Mauney, administrative assistant, meet in the HR conference room to review upcoming events. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Jan Hill, payroll clerk, from left; Marla Coggins, assistant HR director; Sam Southern, HR director; Diane Geisen, benefits clerk; and Karon Mauney, administrative assistant, meet in the HR conference room to review upcoming events. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Benefits Clerk Diane Geisen prepares a document for an employee. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Benefits Clerk Diane Geisen prepares a document for an employee. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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* Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series looking at Bartow County’s budget by department.

While every county employee understands the importance of human resources — they are responsible for payroll after all — the Bartow County purchasing department plays a key role in keeping the county going as well.

Operating on $217,200, purchasing works with other departments “to define their needs and procure materials, supplies and equipment,” Purchasing Director Tracy Brown said, adding that purchasing also meets with prospective vendors wishing to do business with Bartow County.

“Purchasing sells the entire County surplus on a government surplus internet-based auction system, www.govdeals.com, to the highest bidder,” she said. “We are in charge of the car pool, which are vehicles that are available to be checked out to employees to use for county business such as meetings, training sessions, etc. We also house items that departments can check out for use in their meetings, such as overhead projectors and screens, easels, etc.”

Salaries for the department’s three full-time employees make up the largest line item at $120,000.

Following employee costs, purchasing allots the most to office supplies, general supplies and housekeeping supplies at $5,000 each.

“Our budget is different from the other departments’ in the fact that we maintain a warehouse, not that we actually use these items in our department. We keep on hand in the warehouse the main items that are used daily,” Brown said. “Maintaining the warehouse gives us the means to have greater buying power. We stock items such as hand towels, toilet tissue, safety vests, rain suits, hand soap, copy paper, pens, pencils, file folders, can liners, cleaners, mops, brooms, etc.”

Gasoline comes in at $4,000 for the department, which Brown said is for the fuel tank in the parking lot near the courthouse. “Most of the departments that work near the courthouse fuels at that tank, including transit.”

Other purchasing budget items include $3,600 for office equipment, $1,000 for parts - autos and trucks, and $1,000 for food.

Like purchasing, human resources fills several roles within the county government.

“The human resources department has a huge role in county government. If you ask the county employees, they would most likely say payroll is our most important role,” said HR Director Sam Southern. Five full-time employees account for $223,000 of the department’s $370,900 budget and handle a long list of duties, including training new employees, disciplinary procedures, employee records and insurance.

Outside staffing, the largest line item is $14,000 for office equipment, which includes printers and computers.

Office supplies and printing and binding each account for $7,000 in the budget.

Southern said office supplies cover copy paper, pens, pencils, printer supplies and so forth, adding that the department handles “a lot of copies” for policies and checks and W2s.

Other budgeted items include $2,000 for computers, $1,500 for education and training, and $1,000 each for general supplies and books and periodicals.

While the two departments are integral in running the county, both Brown and Southern say the downturn has affected their respective departments deeply.

“The downturn has affected purchasing in a number of ways. We have seen an influx in people wanting to do business with the county,” Brown said. “With all businesses hurting everyone is looking for ways to make money. So I believe that before the downturn a lot of businesses did not reach out to us.

“Also, we are in and out of the office delivering products to departments and couriering for the commissioner’s office - sometimes having the additional days off for furloughs and only three full-time employees gets challenging. But we work in the building with two other departments and they are always willing to lend us a hand if needed.”

She said purchasing is the contact department for what is called “sharing.”

“A lot of the departments, before they requisition an item, contact us to see if maybe another department has the item that they need,” Brown said. “Departments have worked very well together to help other departments. For instance, if someone needs a chair and another department has lost an employee to retirement or attrition then, instead of buying, they will pass the chair on to the department in need.”

Southern said human resources has been affected in many ways from employees to equipment.

“Everyone in the HR department is cross-trained to cover furlough days, the budget is looked at closely on each item needed and equipment is not replaced until absolutely necessary,” she said, adding that all classes have been discontinued with the exception of those not incurring any expense to the county.