Every day in almost every County office, transactions take place that will eventually lead to the payment of money by the County for goods or services. These transactions include the ordering of office supplies, the appointment of a defense attorney, ordering gasoline for County vehicles, the provision of medical services for prisoners at the Law Enforcement Center and hundreds of other situations. For County employees as well as the vendors who supply products or services the process of extracting a check for payment may appear to be an incomprehensible maze. Hopefully, the following information will help to make this process more understandable.
Who pays our bills?
According to the state laws that govern County finances, all requests for payment from the County must be presented to the County Auditor. The County Auditor is to see that all laws regarding County finances have been complied with before a bill is paid. This means that we check all bills to see that they are for legal purchases, that they are within budget, that all purchasing policies have been followed and that they are authorized by the appropriate elected official or department head.
How often does the County pay its bills?
Checks are processed each Tuesday after the bills are approved by the Commissioners Court. We currently process over a thousand invoices a month.
What is the necessary information I have to provide to get a bill approved?
As mentioned above, the County Auditor's office must thoroughly review all invoices before they can be processed for payment. For payment for goods, we need to see that the invoice was initiated by a valid purchase order. We also need to know the department and account number to charge the payment to. We need to see that there is a sufficient budget in the line item to cover the charges. And finally, we need departmental authorization (a signed receiving record) in order to be certain that the invoice is ready to be processed.
How long does it take to get a bill paid by the County?
Our office operates under the Prompt Payment Act which is a state law that requires us to pay our bills within 30 days of receiving a valid invoice. Unless there is a problem with a bill, we almost always meet this deadline. In order to compile the paperwork, review the charges, enter the information on the computer and prepare a report of bills early enough for the Commissioners Court to review, we need a minimum of 10 days from the time we receive an invoice until the check is cut. We always make every effort to process payments to reimburse employees for expenses as quickly as possibly.
What happens if a bill gets lost in one of our county offices?
All invoices should be mailed directly to the County Auditor. However, in practice many vendors deliver their invoice to the department that receives the merchandise. Bills often get misplaced or lost in transit from office to office. When this happens, the Accounts Payable department of the County Auditor's office needs to be informed. We can then contact the vendor for a copy of the missing document.
Who do I talk to if I have a problem getting a bill paid?
The phone number for the Austin County Courthouse is (979) 865-5911. Just ask for the Auditor’s office and Any member of this office will be glad to work with you in resolving any questions or requests you may have.
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