Consultant to help county with finances

Having discussed for some time possible ways to address its financial struggles, the Fayette County Board last week decided to bring in someone who pledged to make improvements.
The board approved an agreement with Bloomington-based Bellwether LLC after Bruce DeLashmit laid out in writing how his firm can help the county’s financial standing.
Board members approved that agreement one month after agreeing to have Bellwether perform a cost study on the operations of the county’s sheriff and county clerk offices.
As a result of those studies, the board approved Bellwether’s recommendation to increase a number of county fees to accurately reflect the cost of providing services.
The county paid $12,000 for the two studies.
DeLashmit said that such action could generate as much as $250,000.
The letter of agreement presented by DeLashmit states that the agreement goes into effect at the beginning of August and runs through Dec. 1, 2018. However, DeLashmit began working with the county at last Tuesday’s meeting, participating with board members and department heads in a closed session to discuss negotiations matters.
As to the reason for a 16-month contract, the letter of agreement states that “an extended contract term helps avoid highly variable monthly fees.”
Through the agreement, the letter states, the county will pay Bellwether $7,000 a month. In addition, when he is required to be onsite for more than two days a month, the county will a mileage fee of $134 per trip, although Bellwether could “add additional onsite visits without an additional fee during peak activity periods.”
In the Desired Service category of the letter, DeLashmit said that items that are “principle among the client’s desires” include:
• Conducting ongoing financial analysis, with actions toward revenue enhancement and expense reduction, which includes an early effort toward validating the 2017 budget; and reviewing labor and benefit expenses, and enhancing non-property tax revenue.
• Establishing a multi-year levy strategy, which includes reviewing existing claims patterns for potential levy realignment.
• Developing a county budget and working with elected officials to provide periodic tracking and updates.
• Facilitating department leadership coordination and planning.
• Serving as a resource for department leadership on employment issues, with early priority to be set on understanding issues impacting labor costs.
• Assisting in financial analysis of labor negotiations.
• Reviewing and providing guidance on contracts, bidding and renewal.
• Reviewing and proposing improvements to the county’s property tax process, with early priority to shortening the overall cycle, with a goal of the first distribution by July 1, 2018.
• Reviewing/developing a county risk management plan, and reviewing insurance costs.
• Serving as a resource to elected officials, attending board meetings as a non-voting representative, facilitating inter-departmental efforts and responding to questions from department heads and board members via meetings, phone calls and emails.

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