published Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Backup plan sought for Jasper finance position

JASPER, Tenn. — After the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen hired a new certified municipal finance officer so the city would comply with state regulations, one board member said he wants a backup option.

In August, the board voted 4-0 to hire Mark Johnson for the job, but Alderman Paul Evans, who abstained from the vote, said the city needs to spend money to train someone in case Johnson suddenly leaves the job.

A person seeking certification as a municipal finance officer can take eight courses for $80 per course over a two-year period, Evans said, and some of the training can be "fast-tracked" if the person is "knowledgeable in accounting."

"We need someone in place to back this person up that we hired," he said. "If he leaves us for another job, we're going to be facing a $50 fine [from the state] per day if we don't have someone who can back him up.

"We can't afford that," he said. "Nobody can."

Evans said $640 is "a small price to pay" to get somebody certified.

Mayor Billy Simpson said Evans' idea is something the board can look into, but it's not an urgent matter.

"I think down the road we can, but the person we've got an agreement with has just moved here," he said. "I don't foresee him leaving anytime soon."

Officials said Johnson will be a city employee who works on an "as-needed basis" and will not receive benefits such as health insurance coverage.

Simpson said the city will pay $25 an hour for Johnson's services, and he expects Johnson to work a maximum of four to five hours per week after "[Johnson] gets things the way he wanted to keep them."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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