Of the last four City Clerks only one had the kind of professionalism and personal integrity to follow financial portions of the Mississippi Code while the other three sold their professional reputations for a paycheck. Unfortunately Clerk Gonzales falls in with the majority in my opinion and it was a rather simple, somewhat innocuous looking agenda item in 3(g) that attracted my attention before last Tuesday’s meeting:
The reason the proposal to set up an Unemployment Compensation Revolving Fund within the Municipal Reserve Bank Account attracted my attention is the obvious co-mingling of dedicated funds, a major no no the council should have learned by now.
That said there were at least three City Councilmen, lead by Councilman Doug Seal, that evidently retained none of the training given them by the Office of the State Auditor’s Performance Audit division in favor of railing about there being too many bank accounts (itself a confusion between the terms “fund” and “bank account”). That said, after a member of the audience repeatedly mentioned to City Attorney Trent Favre the money needed to be separated into its own fund, were questions asked by Councilman Boudin. The council ended up telling Gonzales keep the funds separate.
Surely Ms. Gonzales was aware that Unemployment Compensation for local governments was covered by the Mississippi Code, which spells out the requirement in great specificity at authority section 71-5-359:
(4) Any political subdivision of this state shall pay to the department for the unemployment compensation fund an amount equal to the regular benefits and the extended benefits paid that are attributable to service in the employ of such political subdivision unless it elects to make contributions to the unemployment fund as provided in subsection (9) of this section. The amount required to be reimbursed shall be billed and shall be paid as provided in Section 71-5-357, with respect to similar payments for nonprofit organizations.
(5) Each political subdivision, unless it elects to make contributions to the unemployment compensation fund as provided in subsection (9) of this section, shall establish a revolving fund and deposit an amount equal to two percent (2%) of the first Six Thousand Dollars ($ 6,000.00) paid to each employee thereof during the next preceding year. However, the department shall by regulation establish a procedure to allow reimbursing political subdivisions to elect to maintain the balance in the revolving fund as required under this paragraph or to annually execute a surety bond to be approved by the department in an amount not less than two percent (2%) of the covered wages paid during the next preceding year.
In her presentation Gonzales got every part right except for the establishment of the Unemployment Compensation Revolving Fund. Can you imagine, given the missing DOJ money (comingled and misspent) and other massive problems that have surfaced through time associated with co mingling dedicated funds what Mayor Fillingame would have done once the Unemployment Comp Fund was comingled with the Municipal Reserve Fund?
File this one under the Council got it right, with some help from the audience that seemingly knew more about this topic than they and the Administration.