The county’s annual audit highlights tight budgets, challenges
“The biggest challenge the county has is setting aside things for the future,” auditor Chuck Ulrich said. “You don’t have a lot of excess.”
The county didn’t spend out of its fund balance, meaning it used available revenue to appropriately budget for expected expenditures. In fact, the county expected to spend $334,000, but spent $32,958 less than was budgeted. That is something worthy of applause, Ulrich said.
“That is huge,” he said, “to take the expenditures, match to the revenue and contribute to the fund balance.”
The county also decreased its debt by $229,000, which is a “positive indicator,” Ulrich said.
Ulrich cautioned the $15,000 in excess in the garbage fund, meaning the county collected $15,000 more in garbage fees than it spent. The county must use that balance, and gain approval from garbage users in how to spend that through a process that would include a public hearing. By intent, the garbage fund must not collect more in fees than it spends.
The audit report suggested the county clean up its trust accounts, including the one used by the planning department.
Another improvement that could save the county $1,600 annually is paying its credit card bills on time, said auditor Cathie Hurst. She said she understands that the county holds off on paying the bill until receipts can be collected and matched with statements in order to catch misappropriations, but the delay is unnecessarily costing the county. In fact, some government agencies try to make money off of using a credit card for expenditures by paying them off on time and collecting points, she said.
Following this recommendation would mean that department heads put pressure on employees to promptly turn in their credit card receipts, she said.
Hurst also encourage the county to keep collecting impact fees even if they can’t use them in the six-year time frame allotted.
“You have so much growth in this county, it is phenomenal,” Hurst said. “You are very justified in collecting impact fees. Keep collecting the fees, but earmark them and determine what they are for. You easily can use them and need to with all the massive growth you guys do have. As long as you update your capital facilities plan, you don’t have to refund impact fees (after six years) as long as you have an appropriate reason documented.”
She said sometimes communities have to save money for longer than six years to pay for big ticket items on the capital facilities plan. From an auditing standpoint, that is appropriate.