Clerk, Treasurer Clash Again Over Software Issues
Crawford County Clerk John Martin and Treasurer Karen Sikes clashed again September 3 over software permissions, extending a disagreement that began weeks earlier over information Sikes had received that she said kept her from performing her duties.
The two officials have gone at it a few times during 2019. They had it out in January during Sikes’ first month on the job when she said there was a lack of communication between their respective offices, which she said affected the way she did her job.
They went at it again on August 20 when Sikes said that she was told she needed access to certain functions in the new Incode software, including accounts payable. Sikes also suggested the county commission assign a program administrator who doesn’t use Incode. This, Sikes argued, would ensure proper checks and balances between the offices.
Martin said that Sikes did not need to access what his office is doing.
“It’s not on the treasurer to maintain (human resources) or bills,” he said.
They ended their discussion with each office holder promising to independently verify the other person’s information, seemingly distrustful of one another.
It was back on between the two officials on September 3. Sikes said she had spoken to the county’s go-to QuickBooks (the county is dropping QuickBooks) official and was told that she needed more than inquiry into accounts payable to write checks.
“That’s not true,” Martin said. “The new Incode software we have allows the treasurer to put in her own list of vendors — all taxing entities — and send checks to those people without getting into anything else.”
Sikes said she had never been apprised on that and neither had QuickBooks.
“I’m not sure what QuickBooks has to do with it,” Martin said. “You’re talking about two different things — writing checks and accounts payable.”
“According to (Incode), in order for me to write checks, I need access (to accounts payable),” Sikes said, suggesting that they set up a meeting.
“I understand you’ve been going to Washington County for training. They are on an older system (of Incode),” Martin said. “Had you offered to ask…”
Sikes tried interjecting and Martin slammed his hand on the table multiple times, saying he was not finished.
“Had you offered to ask, I would have sent you to Pulaski County. They run (the new Incode) just fine. They have the same system. Call the treasurer and go there instead of Potosi and getting tutelage from her.”
“Are you finished?” Sikes asked. Martin said he was.
“I have asked you before when I could get training and who I can talk to and you shrug,” Sikes said. “You say call (Incode). I email and reach out to them and no one calls me back.”
Sikes said she tried planning her vacation around training. Martin, she said, told her to take it and that they wouldn’t need her.
“I get the runaround every time,” she said. “I have asked several times and gotten the same answer: ‘you’re on your own.’”
Martin said he had just learned the information about Pulaski County in the last week.
“Every time you have asked me I have not had any information,” he said. “If they haven’t contacted you back that’s not my issue. They don’t always return my emails. They are doing their agenda and moving through their timeline in a timely manner.”
Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders read emails that had been sent from Incode officials and concluded that the only meeting they would take concerned Sikes’ access to different functions.
The email said that Sikes had access to accounts payable inquiry, treasurer cashiery, cashier reports and bank reconciliation.
Any other permissions would have to come from Martin, the email said.
The Incode official concluded that the disagreement was an internal matter only. Sanders surmised that the company does not want to get involved.
“There’s too much confrontation,” he said.
Sikes said when it comes back to access, it is all about who is the administrator and who has control.
“John is the project manager on our end,” she said. “My office is separate from John’s, but I have just as much right to know as John.”
She said again that only having inquiry into accounts payable meant she couldn’t write checks.
“It’s not your job (to access accounts payable),” Martin said.
“If it’s my job to write checks then as the treasurer I need access,” Sikes said.
Sanders asked Sikes where the county bills come to.
“The bills come to the clerk’s office. However, I still have some checks, Leo,” she said.
Martin again pointed out there is a module for Sikes to create her own list of vendors. “I just found out myself,” he said.
Sanders called it a “work in progress” and said there were many things the clerk’s office was still finding out.
Martin agreed and Sikes said “of course” they were learning as they went along.
The clerk said again that as treasurer, Sikes did not need to oversee accounts payable.
“You can have inquiry,” he said.
“I need more,” Sikes said.
“No, you don’t,” Martin replied.
“According to the (Incode) person, (I do),” Sikes said.
“(Incode) doesn’t run this county,” Martin said. “Accounts payable and vendors are two different animals.”
Sanders urged everyone to sit back and let the process flow. Sikes said there needed to be a conference call to settle it.
Martin then raised an issue he had with the treasurer.
“You should learn the software you have before you learn the software you think you want,” he said. “Any treasurer should know the difference between revenues and expenditures.”
“Really?” Sikes said. “You’re wrong.”
Martin said Sikes had $19,000 taken out of a revenue fund, which should always remain positive or at zero.
Sikes said it was interest earned from last October through December the accountants had to take care and blamed it on her predecessor.
“Money shouldn’t be taken out of the revenue fund,” Martin said. “It should be taken out of an expenditure fund. A revenue fund shouldn’t be in the red.”
“We had a lot of things in the red before I started,” Sikes said.
“You are not the savior of this county,” Martin said. “The last treasurer did the best job she could and was fantastic. People like you maligning her caused her not want to want to do this. I’m not that person. You’re not going to run me off.”
Sanders stepped in with the gavel and ended the discussion there.