County board authorizes auditor to pay bills directly

As part of the consent agenda of the Aug. 29 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, the board approved payment of $1.43 million in bills – a total of 672 transactions to 327 different vendors. However, thanks to a resolution approved by the county board, those days may be over.
The commissioners adopted a resolution authorizing County Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala to pay all of the standard bills through his office rather than being required to wait until the next county board meeting to complete the typically random practice of approving the claims listing.
Hiivala told the board that gaps in payment of bills has long been an issue for the county. For example, the claims approved at the Aug. 29 meeting may have been submitted more than two weeks previously. He added that the board has the ability through state law to allow the auditor/treasurer to make payments on bills that come through his office rather than being held over until the next county board meeting for approval.
“This is by statute,” Hiivala said. “You have the authority to delegate that down to me to get these paid. We drafted this resolution which basically says that you delegate that authority down to me.”
Commissioner Mike Potter stated that the procedural shortening of the payments can have multiple benefits, including making the accounting of bills paid through various county departments more accurate from the time invoices are released to times they are paid. In addition, there are some companies that provide discounts for early repayments, which would be much more easily captured under the new provision for paying bills.
“We will be able to pay these timely and take advantage of any discounts for paying in a certain amount of time,” Potter said. “The efficiencies of this will help through the auditor/treasurer’s office. It’s a win for the county to take advantage of any discounts and make sure we make timely payments.”

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