Fifer offered a series of recommendations in Tuesday’s memo — sent to various county officials and office holders — on how to deal with the deficit. Among the recommendations was for the commissioners to deny requests to pay any further claims or payroll out of the general fund, as he wrote that he does not believe they can legally be approved; that department heads immediately cease purchasing any supplies or equipment; all county department employees be issued written layoff notices, effective Tuesday; and to direct the department heads to secure and fully close the department offices no later than Tuesday.
Fifer admitted Tuesday deadline is not a hard and fast end date, but said it would be a day after the council is scheduled to hold its next meeting and have a chance to act on the deficit spending.
“It is really up to them to find funds to avert this,” Fifer said of the council. “If they announce a plan [Monday] ... yes, we can buy some more time. It’s just an indication we’re playing with fire. It’s a real problem and it has to be dealt with now.”
If the council does not take some action he said it is his legal duty to recommend to the commissioners to not approve claims or payroll invoices.
Fifer added that the commissioners may have already approved claims at their last meeting that should not have been paid, but that the commissioners had asked Snelling if the funds were available to pay the claims and payroll and had not been notified the fund had ran into the red.
But Snelling said the commissioners and council knew when they were approving the claims and payroll out of the general fund it was running in the red.
“They’ve got the funds report right in front of them,” he said. “They’ve been aware of the problem.”
The commissioners are set to meet Thursday and Fifer said he would be offering the recommendation that the commissioners not approve either the claims or payroll at the meeting.
“My recommendation Thursday, at a minimum, [is] those be tabled,” he said.