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WCSO Finance staff keeps wheels rolling--March 2014 Wakulla Times

WCSO FINANCE DIVISION KEEPS THE WHEELS ROLLING
BY CHARLIE CREEL
Sheriff, Wakulla County

One of the most important factors in creating an outstanding and cohesive team is having strong individual links within each division. The strong links in the chain help the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office operate smoothly and efficiently as a unit.

We have multiple divisions within the agency and this month I would like to focus on the Finance Division. This is a group of four hard working young ladies who are responsible for making sure that all of our employees are paid every other week and much, much more.

 

 

The group includes our Finance Director Mary Dean Barwick, Payroll Coordinator Jan Sanders who also handles grants, Purchasing Agent Geneva Stokley who also works with inventory and fleet and Accounts Payable Officer Heidi Taylor who also handles bank reconciliations, cash receipts and the Range financial work.

These four ladies help manage the WCSO budget which is approximately $10.4 million and covers Law Enforcement, Corrections, E-911, courthouse security and Emergency Management.
This division also manages 35 other funds, including grants and contracts, special revenue funds, agency funds and community support funds.

The Finance Division is responsible for preparing and submitting the annual operating budget as required by Florida Statutes. After the budget is approved by our taxing authority, the Wakulla County Commission, the finance staff monitors and manages the budget through the months that follow.

The group coordinates the WCSO’s annual independent audit of the financial statements. They develop internal controls and procedures for purchasing, payroll, accounts payable, cash receipts, special revenue funds and trust funds. They also conduct internal audits of divisions that receive money.

But the work does not stop there for finance. They are responsible for administering purchasing policies approved by the sheriff, submitting the monthly orders for inmates, cleaning and office supply orders and they process all invoices and checks for all purchases.

They must process more than 150 payroll checks every other week and submit reimbursement reports for all grants and contracts.
The staff maintains contract files for WCSO contracts and they maintain asset records for fixed assets. We also maintain inventory on radios, Tasers and AEDs. As an agency with a fleet of vehicles, the Finance Division keeps fleet records that include auto insurance, vehicle tags and vehicle accidents.

Leading our financial group is Mary Dean Barwick who began working for former Sheriff David Harvey in 2000. A Tallahassee girl, she attended Cobb Middle School and Lincoln High School before obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Accounting at Florida State University.

“Math has always been my strong point,” she said of her desire to get into the financial industry after she completed her university studies. James Moore and Company hired Mary Dean and she did a broad range of activities including audits and taxes for small governmental clients and non-profits.

Mary Dean and her husband Mike moved to Wakulla County after Mike joined the Wakulla County School District. He advanced from classroom teacher and coach to assistant principal and now principal at Wakulla Middle School. We are glad the Barwicks decided to make Wakulla County their home.

Mary Dean was concerned about whether she would be bored when Sheriff Harvey called her in 2000. “I’ve never been bored,” she joked of the diverse activities and responsibilities as well as the changes that have occurred over the years.

The Finance Division spearheads projects in order to find the most cost effective means of providing taxpayer services.
The WCSO recently experienced changes to the inmate commissary operation and the inmate food service company. We are always attempting to improve the quality of our services at the lowest cost to the taxpayers of Wakulla County. We feel the changes made in the food service and commissary operations have improved our operation for both the inmates and the staff. We have vendors who are providing a better service at a lower cost.

We have had a very successful grants program over the years. Grants are necessary to supplement the regular budget and stretch our ability to offer services to the citizens of the county. Grants provide a range of services to the county including Emergency Management, victim services, DUI and speed enforcement patrols, equipment needs and community support.
Mary Dean and the Finance Division have been active in negotiations with federal agencies to provide the WCSO with funding in exchange for housing of federal prisoners. Within the last two years Armor Medical was added in the jail to provide health services to inmates that were unavailable prior to their arrival.

Radios are essential for staff to communicate within the facility and all around the county. Uniforms are required for detention and law enforcement officers each shift. Inmate supplies, office supplies and patrol vehicles are necessary every day and the financial bookkeeping for the WCSO Range is also handled through the finance division.

“The transition for finance was very smooth and it was for all three sheriffs,” said Mary Dean. Sheriff Harvey retired in the fall of 2011 and Sheriff Donnie Crum finished out the last 15 months of Sheriff Harvey’s term before I joined the WCSO in January 2013.

The Finance Division works closely with the Human Resources Division to make sure the Florida Retirement System information is followed for each employee and health insurance is reviewed along with Workers Comp issues.

The finance division impact is felt within the other divisions such as in the jail where the quartermaster must have the resources to make sure everything is running smoothly and the Maintenance Division who oversees building and vehicle repairs.

Mary Dean and her staff have worked with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contacts to make sure Wakulla County has received the maximum amount of money for each detainee that is housed here. We have been able to negotiate the per diem upward from the original contract signed by Sheriff Harvey years ago.

We are also at the mercy of the federal government as to how many detainees will be transported to our jail facility and for how long each detainee stays before being moved out. We would love to see the federal government increase the number of detainees we house but as the federal budget issues reared their head in recent months our detainee numbers have been lower than we would like. But like everything involving law enforcement and detention, you must simply work through the difficult patches.

“I’ve got a great group working with me. It is our responsibility that every employee of the WCSO has the necessary resources in order for them to most effectively and efficiently accomplish their tasks.” said Mary Dean. “Overall we wear many different hats. This makes my job challenging and rewarding. I   also love seeing the many different grants become successful and make a difference within the community.”

The WCSO has embraced technology whenever possible and hand readers now provide security for the WCSO as employees enter the facility. Many additional security cameras have been added at the WCSO and video visitation does not require a family member to be in the jail to speak at an inmate.

The sheriff’s office updated the telephone system with a Voice Over IP system and our communications equipment is updated as frequently as possible. Through the assistance of the sheriff’s office, sheriff’s office generated funding was turned over to the county commissioners to rebuild depleted reserves and provide commissioners with some financial security at a time when the board was teetering on the brink of financial distress.

A grant provided an expanded school resource program that helps address concerns involving our county youth both inside and outside the school system. We have also saved money on the WCSO fire system inspections and the better return on commissary sales to inmates brings additional funding into the Inmate Welfare Fund which funds items for the inmates like the GED program.
Grants also provide funding for off duty details which result in Party Patrol activity, DUI and speed enforcement activities as well as details with the U.S. Marshal’s office and security details in the forest.
The school district also chipped in funding for the school resource officers to be involved in extracurricular activities such as sporting events. We have details that help us address patrol and enforcement in higher crime areas and during parades.

I am fortunate to have such a dedicated and professional staff handling the financial issues for the agency. It takes top notch individuals to provide the spoke in each division that creates the wheel that eventually smoothly pushes the agency down the road.

I am fortunate because I have top notch staff spread throughout my agency handling duties from finance to the jail and communications to administration.
Have a great month of March and I hope everyone has a safe spring.

 

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