The paperwork is piled up on his desk, dozens of reports stacked neatly on the edge. The telephone rings and rings. He’s constantly on the desk top computer, scrolling through more reports.
County Trustee Scotty Long has been busy since taking the reins of the office just a little more than a month ago.
“There’s a lot of catching up to do,” he said. “And cleaning up to do.”
Long took over from former County Trustee John Baskette, who resigned two months ago after facing several indictments and charges related to his time on the job and personal matters.
Long, a former county commissioner who was elected to that role last year in District 14, was appointed by the commission to fill the trustee’s role.
It’s a job not unusual for him. He has owned and operated businesses in the past and kept books on those businesses. Now, he finds himself in a role managing a $130 million county budget.
When he walked into the role a month ago, he said there was a learning curve. He found himself trying to sort through bank accounts and get everything back up and running.
Baskette had resigned and the former deputy trustee had also resigned. He went into the job face first.
“First week, I thought I was in a vacuum tube,” he said.
He’s now making changes that will benefit the county, including reducing the number of bank accounts. He said there are almost 20 bank accounts the county has been using and he plans on shutting some down. Some have just sat idle, he said.
“We don’t need those bank accounts,” Long said.
Instead, he has moved the funds into more high-yield accounts.
The money is being moved into a secure state Local Government Investment Pool and the returns are far greater, right now, then previously. For example, several funds were in a pool generating 0.75% interest, but the LGIP interest is currently sitting at 2.1%.
“Percentage points are very, very valuable,” he said.
Long said his goal is for the county to make money. The money needs to be in secure government accounts making money.
“That money should be working,” he said. “That money should always be working.”
He said he has been working closely with auditors since he assumed the office to make sure everything is running properly and up to auditing standards.
“It’s quite an undertaking,” he said. “This is not an easy transition.”
But, he said he has leaned on his staff to help him and he’s looking forward to trying to enact best practices.
“I want it to progress faster than I am,” he said. “It’s my human nature.”
He said he wants to get the office back on its feet after it went through turbulence the last few months.
“I want to restore honesty and integrity in the office,” he said.
But, he said he’s hard at work with what has been handed to him right now.
Whether his new role lasts a year or several years, he said there is one thing he plans to do.
“I want to pass it off to someone better than I found it,” he said. “I was always taught to leave it better than you found it.”