Franklin makes changes to collections

Published 8:39 am Friday, February 12, 2010

FRANKLIN—In 2005, the City Council voted to give the Finance Department control over the city’s collections office in an unsuccessful effort to improve collections. Monday night, the council voted to reverse that decision and give the treasurer control over the collections office.

“It adds on-site immediate supervision, it brings experience and it sort of restructures the way business is being conducted,” said City Manager June Fleming. “We think we can make efficient use of the collective time that is available with this arrangement.”

Fleming said that Treasurer Dinah Babb and her office would merge with the collections office. Fleming said that the “configuration of personnel” would be changed and there would be employees focusing on collections full time.

Interim Finance Director Amber Stansbury told the council that it is “logistically” difficult for the finance director to directly monitor the collections office, and giving the treasurer control of the office would be a positive move.

“As our economy is changing, I think that collections is going to get even more important than it is even now,” she said. “I just think that would be a much better scenario for us so that we can increase our collection percentage even more.”

Combining the offices for the collection of state and local funds and separating the physical location for Utility Customer Service “will reduce confusion for the citizens,” according to a memo from Stansbury and Babb.

Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson expressed concern that the employees would not be under the authority of the city manager. As a constitutional officer, the treasurer is not a city employee, and employees in her office report to her, not the city manager.

“That’s the structure under which they would work under this proposal, which is no different from the way they functioned before you made the change and split them apart,” Fleming said.

Babb said that she already follows the city’s guidelines and rules, and would continue to do so.

“It would be to my best interest, as the treasurer, to work well with Mrs. Fleming as the city manager, as well as Carolyn Joyner, the human resources (manager).”

The proposal calls for the elimination of one unfilled position, and the restructuring allows for $11,700 in increased state reimbursement.

The plan is being implemented “as quickly as possible,” according to Fleming. She said the effect of the new configuration on collections would not be evident overnight, but it would show a gradual improvement over time.