HUDSON -- The Finance Department met City Manager Jane Howington and city Council to discuss the future budget of the department at the March 14 Council meeting.
The Finance Department headed by Finance Director Jeff Knoblauch has six full-time employees. The Accounts Receivable and Purchasing Accountant was not filled, but an employee from engineering helps out during the busy season in December and January when engineering is slower.
"Everyone is cross-trained and has backups for all positions," Knoblauch said.
Because duties have grown for the human resource department, it has become part of the finance department, Knoblauch said. Brian Griffith is a major part of that but uses outside consultants for specialized areas like Worker's Comp and health insurance.
"We use advisors a lot when we need to ensure we are compliant with mandates," Howington said.
When employees leave, severance pay can be substantial, Howington said. With some modifications, the city could limit how much the city pays upon retirement for future employees.
The city is partially self-insured and looking at going fully self-insured to save on health care cost, Knoblauch said.
Initiatives include reducing paperwork for invoices and seasonal employees, he said.
"We're looking to automate," Knoblauch said. "On and off boarding of seasonal employees is very paper intensive. That's an area we can improve on."
One of the initiatives for the finance department was taking online credit card payments which allows other departments to swipe credit cards, Knoblauch said. The company charges a fee to the user so the city doesn't have to pay for it.
In addition, the finance department looks at ways to increase cash flow for financially distressed departments like EMS and the golf course, Knoblauch said.
Gov. John Kasich's budget bill is another concern for the city, Knoblauch said. The state wants to collect net profit returns from businesses. The state would take a percentage and return the balance to the municipalities. The fees could be too high.
After the state reduced local government funding and eliminated the estate tax which hurt local municipalities, there is distrust with the state taking control of local funds, he said.
"The idea that the state would take control eliminates local control," Knoblauch said. "There was a push to collect all local tax but now they are starting with net profit tax. The camel is sticking his nose out of the tent. There is concern there."
The website Open.gov began in late 2016 and makes the finances accessible to the public and more transparent, he said.