Banking, accounting expenses could rise System software must be replaced

March 26, 1997|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

County Comptroller Eugene Curfman had two pieces of bad news for the County Commissioners yesterday when discussing his $1.6 million operating budget request for the coming fiscal year.

The county soon may have to switch to a new bank that could charge higher rates to guarantee the county's investments, Curfman said.

NationsBank, which guarantees the county's investments, "has put its trust division up for sale," Curfman said at yesterday's hearing on department budget requests for fiscal 1998, which begins July 1.

"I can't say we're going to stay within the budget in that area," Curfman told the commissioners. "If they don't sell [the trust division] until next year, we'll be fine."

The county contract with NationsBank would not be binding on whoever buys the bank's trust division, Curfman said. The county's investment portfolio ranges from $70 million to $150 million each year, he said.

Curfman's second piece of bad news is that "a problem developed with our financial system," and as a result, the county will have to buy new accounting software at an estimated cost of $350,000.

"As of Jan. 1, 2000, our system is no good," Curfman told the commissioners. "There have been no upgrades since the mid-'80s," he said, and "the county auditors are not getting the reports we need."

Peat Marwick, the accounting firm that had serviced and maintained the county's financial software, has told the county that it is upgrading its system for the year 2000, Curfman said.

He said the county is canceling its contract with Peat Marwick. He said he would prefer to spend money on a new system that would link the accounting department with the purchasing office, rather than pay to upgrade the present system to meet Peat Marwick's standards.

Until the county receives bids on a new system, officials will not know for sure what it would cost, Curfman said.

Curfman told the commissioners he will need several new employees in his department, beginning this year with a new clerk in the purchasing department and an administrative secretary.

The series of day and night hearings on departmental budget requests that began March 18 will continue at 6 p.m. tonight at the Westminster Senior Center when the Economic Development Department defends its request.

Pub Date: 3/26/97

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