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Mansfield still working on 2014 budget

MANSFIELD — Mansfield officials are working to pull the city out of a financial log jam that has delayed the city’s budget for nearly a month.

Officials said at the Jan. 13 meeting that the 2014 budget — which would normally have been completed in November in time for approval in December — was still in the works. The city operates on an annual budget of about $1 million.

Councilwoman Lisa Dunn said Wednesday that the primary problem lies with new accounting software that the city implemented last year. Although the software was designed for municipalities and recommended by the city’s auditing firm, Dunn said city employees need more training in order to use it correctly.

Dunn also said Mayor Estona Middlebrooks and City Clerk Jamie Ruark initially indicated that the software implementation was proceeding as planned.

“It’s been an ordeal,” she said. “We were told in the beginning everything was going good and fine, and we found it really wasn’t.”

Councilman Jeff Riley said council members have a draft budget and will work to finalize it as soon as possible. Once completed, “we will have it at City Hall for a month for citizens to review. Then at the next regular meeting, which at this point will probably be March, there will be an opportunity for citizens to speak if they have questions about the budget,” he said.

The council discussed on Jan. 13 contracting with a CPA and hiring a town treasurer, which is allowed by the charter, to help prevent future financial problems. However, with no budget in hand, council members aren’t sure how much they can pay for those services.

The Mansfield Council will hold a called meeting Friday at 6 p.m. Riley said that job descriptions for the CPA and town treasurer will be among the items on the agenda.