Financial Expert Recommends Sweeping Changes To Save Century

June 13, 2019

An independent financial consultant that wrote the Town of Century is “teetering on a financial cliff, and quick decisive action is needed to rescue it” sat down with the town council Wednesday evening to expound on his report. He recommended the town divest management of its utilities, hire a chief financial officer, get rid of their current accountant and just simply learn to work together.

With natural gas and water utilities losing about a million dollars in three years, Bob Inzer told the council they must take action now.

“Those are big numbers for a city of your size,” he said, adding most cities operate their utilities to make money to offset other expenses or provided additional services. He said it was the council’s responsibility to know about financial problems and take corrective actions on a timely basis, but “looking at the minutes (of council meetings), that’s not happened”.

He said the town’s charter, which has not been updated for four decades, is “antiquated” and presents a role for the mayor’s office that is more like that of a city manager. The council, he said, has been left with only limited information about the financial condition of the town from the mayor and town employees.

“The buck stops really with the council in this community,” Inzer said “You’ve got to find a way to work together.”

“Y’all are the board of directors. This is your money, this your system, this your government. Somebody’s got to be asking the questions and paying attention to what is going on,” he said.

Inzer repeatedly told the council that Century needs to hire someone for a chief financial officer type position to have direct oversight over the town’s finances.

“You hire the people that have that expertise to report to you, and you hold them accountable,” he said. “…I believe your city is not operating with the level of oversite it needs to be as evidenced by your losses.”

If the town were to hire a CFO, that could replace the town’s current accountant. “I would think he would not be needed,” Inzer remarked.

He also recommended that the town sell the town’s utilities or outsource their management.

“It was harsh, but it was an eye opener,” council member Luis Gomez said. “It felt like 95 percent was spot-on.”

To read more about Inzer’s report in depth, click here for an earlier NorthEscambia.com story. Inzer has spent nearly 50 years in municipal finance, including 30 years with the City of Tallahassee. Through the Florida League of Cities, his services and report were at no cost to the town.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Comments

27 Responses to “Financial Expert Recommends Sweeping Changes To Save Century”

  1. Resident on June 13th, 2019 9:22 pm

    Yep
    Hard lessons. Waiting for the audit.
    But from within the boundaries ones
    that want running water and toilet flushes, think about property taxes, MSBU to keep the lites lit
    If TOC can pull it off. More power to them!
    Hope the employees at the Pig can wash their hands and cut the meat..
    All you complainers ..darn ..you sound about as stupid as the rest of them

    All you ..county people..guess what.. we will cost YOU more If unincorporated.

    Chose your poison.

  2. Century Resident on June 13th, 2019 9:00 pm

    These comments are great. Guess what. Some have thought long and hard about this.?

    Its been a great civics lesson. All we can hope is that that the ones who stepped up, were elected or hired will pleasantly surprise us all.

    Life is a Journey.

    If you fire someone..just think its sets them free..may keep them from going to jail even.. Smile and tell Hudson the accountant. BYE. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt.

    NEXT?????

    Seriously..

    Stay dumb or go.. Hawkins you have a meme circulating about you . Your public Joker post on fb is seen more than you may think. Everybody is not your friend.

  3. J.J. on June 13th, 2019 8:48 pm

    To be honest, the citizens of Century and town council are just too stupid to run a town. When Starter Corporation opened up their manufacturing plant, within a couple of years they had to close because they could not find employees who would not steal from their job providers. Fast food joints have had to close because they could not find enough employees who cared enough to provide proper service to the public. The Century public would be best served to dissolve their town and turn the council and mayoral responsibilities over to Escambia County which seems to be run more honestly.

  4. M in Bratt on June 13th, 2019 7:10 pm

    @Reality check; A referendum is a fine idea, except for one thing; according to State Law, the only way to get a referendum on the ballot is for this sitting Town Council to vote to put it there. What are the chances of that happening? The only other way to revoke a town charter is for both houses of the Fl. Legislature to do it. I don’t think the legislature would act until after the Governor had to step in and remove some of these people from office and replace them. So in the mean time, the King and His court maintain their rule.

  5. Willis on June 13th, 2019 5:05 pm

    I can remember a time when the gas department was considered a money maker helping the budget.
    Sending bills to everyone receiving gas would be a good start.

  6. Wise mayor on June 13th, 2019 4:32 pm

    I think that there is only a single direction that can be taken. I think only 3 people are qualified for Mayor. My first choice for Mayor of Century would be the current Mayor at Bluff Springs. Earl Wise. This guy saved Bluff Springs from the exact same situation. Now there is no crime in the area. He brought job growth to the area. And the community is reaping the benefits. Recycled Aluminium cans have not only put many to work. But he knows business. BJ is second choice. Then D Morgan. The best meter reader Century ever had. 3 real leaders.

  7. Chelleepea on June 13th, 2019 3:11 pm

    @IMHO…….no nobody said it was Hudson’s fault as far as the accounting goes….it’s only that since Hudson only comes in when council calls and is only contracted more or less as a bookkeeper, he’s not aware of what goes on at the town hall on a daily basis to even advise them fully.

    The city manager will be there full time to instruct, advise, and put procedures in place where Hudson couldn’t. Someone knowledgeable needs to be there full time since most of the employees are entry level and all of them lack financial know how.

  8. BIG JOHN on June 13th, 2019 2:18 pm

    WELL, WILL THIS BE A NEW CHAPTER FOR CENTURY TO GET THERE ACT TOGETHER AND DO WHAT MR. INZER SAID THEY NEED DO! OR WILL MAYOR SAY IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT , IT WILL BE MY WAY OR THE HIGH WAY. ( AS THE LOOK ON THE MAYOR FACE IT;S GOING BE HIS WAY ) SO WILL AS CENTURY TURNS STILL BE THE SAME WAY OR WHAT. WE WILL SEE ! WATCH FOR THE NEXT STORY

  9. IMHO on June 13th, 2019 2:18 pm

    So now it Robert Hudson’s fault?? Sorry, but there’s a certified CPA on the Council. If Robert was wrong in his advisements then I’d think she would have spoken up. Well, on second thought her business got a “loan” too. None of them should be pointing fingers. Nice shirt Mayor, glad your so proud. I’m ashamed for all of you.

  10. Century Resident on June 13th, 2019 1:11 pm

    We have thought long and hard about all this and considered the options.

    It truly now depends upon the ones elected and the ones hired if they will heed the feedback and make a go of this.

    Time will tell.

  11. Rasheed Jackson on June 13th, 2019 11:46 am

    Water and Gas services should be a source of revenue for the town. Wouldn’t be better to fix the problem, start running them as a for profit department , rather than sell them.If you sell them what would the money be used for? Selling them is a short term fix, Yes you have eliminated a source of continuing loses but you have also lost a potential for making money. Also Who would want to invest in them when they losing money and probably in need improvements.

  12. George on June 13th, 2019 11:03 am

    I completely agree with these 2 statements:

    Florida logger on June 13th, 2019 7:38 am:

    Look at the look on Hawkins face a simple I don’t care look . Just evil looking thinks he better that every one else look just lazy looking you sir are sorry sorry sorry.

    tg on June 13th, 2019 7:37 am:

    The Mayors look says I Cant Go For That.

  13. bob on June 13th, 2019 10:58 am

    Prediction:

    The TOC will not change and the town will “die on the vine” or someone will intervene.

    The culture and work environment is one of denial, arrogance, narcissism and nepotism.

    TOC is dead, just waiting on someone to print the death certificate.

  14. MMC on June 13th, 2019 10:51 am

    When half the town is not sent a bill for water or gas, no wonder Century is going down. Listen to Inzer, he knows what is best for Century. I say get rid of ALL the employees, including the Mayor and start fresh with folks that want to work. Hire people that are knowledgeable of operations in a financial corporation. First they must be highly educated, and second have experience working in Finance.

    Allow private utilities to take over and manage the water and gas. Especially right now with the big debt Century owes. It all goes back to mismanagement. How can anyone not know in that Century office that owing bills of that much that something is wrong? No one wants to step up to the plate and admit “I’m part of it”. So just brush it under the table.

    Inzer stated “This is your money” and the Board of Directors are like – what money?

    As for the future of Century and them taking the advice of Inzer seriously – I’m waiting.

  15. M in Bratt on June 13th, 2019 10:51 am

    Let’s see, if we sell all the utilities, what will be left for the new highly paid CFO to manage? I guess he will be on the payroll to make sure the king and his court will keep getting their checks, free utilities, and an occasional loan when they need it. Or maybe he will be tasked with keeping the splash pad splashing. Face the fact, the Town of Century is dead. Give it a decent memorial service and burial, and move on. .

  16. chris on June 13th, 2019 10:47 am

    “Hiring a CFO means finding someone who has a degree in business management and knows what they are doing. Someone with those credentials isn’t likely going to want to work for a town like Century.” I’m sure that all the business and industry that Hawkins PROMISED to bring in when he was elected will draw the finest talent to Century.

  17. CW on June 13th, 2019 10:36 am

    Hiring a CFO means finding someone who has a degree in business management and knows what they are doing. Someone with those credentials isn’t likely going to want to work for a town like Century.

  18. Agree on June 13th, 2019 10:31 am

    I think the report is dead on and if they don’t follow the suggestions, the town is done.

    1. The gas department losing a mil in three years… if they could outsource the management of that and get paid even a small amount, it would be a huge gain. If they only made $2,000 a month, plus not lose over $330,000 a year… that would be an average of about $350,000 more dollars a year for the town to operate, going a long ways towards making it solvent.

    2. A full time CFO for the town would be MUCH better than the town accountant they have now. His accounting firm probably has a hundred other businesses finances that he manages, and I doubt whether the town’s mess is one of his main concerns. With the money they pay the accountant, plus the vast amount of money they’d save by managing the finances correctly, they could pay a nice salary to a full time CFO who could spend ALL his time making sure things were getting done, instead of a few hours a month.

    3. Although the city council is a bit of a circus sometimes, I agree with the reviewer in that they need to redo the charter and make it where they work more together with the mayor. It seems like there are constantly things popping up where the mayor has not given the council the proper information until things are at a critical stage.

  19. John on June 13th, 2019 9:42 am

    Impending doom for a town with such great potential. Year after year of poor management and oversight and hiring someone else won’t fix this slow motion train wreck. Disolve and let those who are equipped and trained properly make something of this once respected corner of our community. A vote of no confidence is long overdue.

  20. w.w. on June 13th, 2019 9:40 am

    Sometimes the truth hurts….. Drain the swamp, reorganize/hire the right folks for the J.O.B. and not someone’s kin-folk.

  21. Mr. Metoo on June 13th, 2019 8:31 am

    Can Mr. Gomez explain the other 5 percent that the expert got wrong and then for a small fee I can tell them what he thinks is right. Or maybe go with the “He’s a lie”explanation for $500.

  22. Florida logger on June 13th, 2019 7:38 am

    Look at the look on Hawkins face a simple I don’t care look . Just evil looking thinks he better that every one else look just lazy looking you sir are sorry sorry sorry.

  23. tg on June 13th, 2019 7:37 am

    The Mayors look says I Cant Go For That.

  24. Reality check on June 13th, 2019 7:32 am

    As I have mentioned before so many times, the City if Century needs to make some tough decisions.

    It starts with a root determination by its citizens, by referendum, as to whether the City even needs to have an incorporated government.

    Once the people determine this by vote, you move forward. If unincorporation occurs, then private or public utilities will need to operate infrastructure, and the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners begin to provide government in the former incorporated areas.

    But if the City votes to remain incorporated, it is truly a new dawn. The community is going to need to get itself into a new century, that being the 21st century. Clinging to the way things were always done will need to conclude. Legal matters, smart systems, higher educational standards, financial literacy and prowess, health and fitness, an smarter blue collar workforce and emergence of a white collar workforce, energy efficiency standards/sustainability, establishing clear links to larger urban centers, and most of all greater engagement with the City’s political system.

    Without a comprehensive community-wide understanding that the future MUST involve sweeping changes, it’s more of the same. Whether incorporation or unincorporation is chosen, the citizens MUST work together to have any chance of taking the community into a competitive future.

    It’s decision time.

  25. Dig Deeper on June 13th, 2019 7:06 am

    He says, “he would think the accountant would not be needed if they hire a CFO”. Somebody, please tell me what Hudson has done so far other than fleece the Town of Century!!

    The level of “care and due diligence” Hudson has provided to the Town of Century is disgusting and laughable.

  26. Mark on June 13th, 2019 6:28 am

    It’s time to drain the swamp and replace everyone , including the mayor. Enough is enough.

  27. sam on June 13th, 2019 5:53 am

    in other words the town is not being run efficiently. when half the town is not sent a bill for water and gas that’s being used it’s a no brainer.





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