Disbursement Warrants under Fiscal Control Acts of 1957

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The Fiscal Control Acts of 1957 are divided into three separate acts: budgeting (T.C.A. § 5-12- 101 et seq), accounting (T.C.A. § 5-13-101 et seq), and purchasing (T.C.A. § 5-14-101 et seq).

In those counties operating under the County Fiscal Control Acts of 1957 it is the duty of the director of accounts and budgets to prepare disbursement warrants on all county funds. T.C.A. § 5-13-105(b)(1). It is the duty of the director to sign all county disbursement warrants as evidence of the director’s audit and approval of the expenditure. T.C.A. § 5-13-105(b)(2). See also T.C.A. § 5-12-110(f)(2). However, no disbursement warrant drawn on the county trustee becomes a county liability payable by the county trustee until the warrant has also been signed by the county mayor, county director of schools, or other official or officials whose signatures are required on such warrants. T.C.A. § 5-13-105(b)(2).

Pursuant to T.C.A. § 5-12-110(f)(1), expenditures from all funds of the county, except school funds, shall be made by disbursement warrants on the county trustee signed by the county mayor and the director of accounts and budgets, and no other official, department, institution or agency of the county may issue negotiable warrants or vouchers for expenditures.

Before any obligation against the county is paid or any disbursement warrant or voucher issued therefor, a detailed invoice or statement approved by the head of the office, department or agency for which the obligation was made must be filed with the director of accounts and budgets. The director must make a careful pre-audit of such invoice or statement, including a comparison with any encumbrance document previously posted or filed authorizing such obligation, and must approve for payment only such items as appear to be correct, properly authorized, and not exceeding the otherwise unencumbered balance of the allotments or appropriations against which they are chargeable. T.C.A. § 5-13-107(a) and (b). See also T.C.A. § 5-12-110(f)(2).

Disbursement warrants must be promptly prepared for all such approved items by the director and mailed or delivered to the payees thereof. A duplicate copy of all disbursement warrants, with all original invoices or other supporting documents, or both, attached to the duplicate copies, must be kept on file in the office of the director. T.C.A. § 5-13-107(c) and (d).

Payroll Account. The director and the county mayor are authorized to maintain a special county payroll account at a local bank at the county seat in which disbursement warrants for the total of each payroll may be deposited and against which individual net earning checks may be issued to each county employee. The county mayor may authorize the issuance of payroll checks on the signature of the director, and in such event the depository bank shall be so instructed. T.C.A. § 5-13-105(g)(2) and (3).

Application to Schools. The provisions of the 1957 laws do not apply to county school funds for any purpose, the county board of education, and the county director of schools unless approved by the commissioner of education. T.C.A. §§ 5-12-113; 5-13-110; 5-14-115. See Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 88-25 (February 2, 1988).

In counties where the 1957 laws have been approved for schools, the accounts and other obligations of the county department of education, other than payrolls, are paid by disbursement warrants drawn on the county trustee by the county board of education. Copies of all disbursement warrants issued by the board of education, showing the accounting classification chargeable, shall be furnished by the board of education to the director of accounts and budgets daily as issued. As an alternative, disbursement warrants may be prepared in the office of the director of accounts and budgets for the county board of education. T.C.A. § 5-12-110(e).