The town’s finance department was the guinea pig of a subcommittee formed to review town operations.
Subcommittee Chairman and Commissioner David Brenner interviewed town Finance Director Tom Kelley Aug. 5. This was the committee’s first attempt to determine efficiencies and/or inefficiencies within Town Hall.
Brenner did not find much fault with the finance department’s operations.
In a recommendation report, Brenner suggested the department charge for any public-records requests by also accounting for time and paper costs.
Brenner also suggested that:
• Non-residents be charged more to use the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center than Key residents.
• A finance committee be created to meet with auditors, pension boards and to review town quarterly financial reports.
• A task force be created to review and prioritize the needs of the department.
• The utility department begin accepting credit cards as a form of payment.
• The legal level of budgeting control be raised from line items to department fund levels.
• The town manager’s transfer authority be raised from $10,000 to $20,000.
• The finance department should be more physically secure and possibly locked.
Brenner called the recommendations “housekeeping measures” and are suggestions that still need to be reviewed by the subcommittee.
“Everything seems to be operating satisfactorily in the department,” Brenner said. “I think the process worked well.”
But Brenner believes there are opportunities to streamline efficiencies in the department.
“There were no glaring issues, but there are opportunities for improvement and more efficiency,” Brenner said.
Kelley agreed with Brenner’s assessment and his suggestions.
“Nothing that Commissioner Brenner brought to my attention was surprising,” Kelley said. “In fact, it’s good that the committee and the commission understands what we can do in this department to be more efficient.”
The subcommittee is still interviewing candidates who can act as volunteer consultants to review other town departments.
The subcommittee has already interviewed six volunteers, including former Mayor Lee Rothenberg, and an additional three candidates will be interviewed later this month.
Meanwhile, the subcommittee is still debating how the rest of the process will work.
At an Aug. 12 meeting, Brenner, fellow subcommittee members and members of the public debated whether only department heads should be interviewed or if all town employees should be interviewed.
“We are going to start with department heads,” Brenner said. “But I can see in certain situations a department head may want to bring someone else in who has extensive knowledge of an issue.”
The subcommittee plans to continue to hold meetings over the summer to interview remaining candidates and finalize a plan of action for the rest of the department reviews.
Once all the interviews are performed, the town manager will be interviewed before a final report is presented to the Town Commission.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].