$1M down for fiscal year 2012
By Stephanie Johns
The Morgan County general fund had a loss of $1 million for fiscal year (FY) 2012, which ended June 30, 2012.
Lori Sayer, the county’s director of finance, later explained that this was a planned use.
“We had a healthy reserve from previous years and a 34 percent drop in property values,” she said. “That’s why the county is using this.”
Beth Grimes and her colleague, Duane Schlereth, with Bates, Carter & Co., LLP out of Gainesville, shared the audit report titled, “Morgan County, Georgia: Financial Data for the Year Ended June 30, 2012.”
Information they provided noted that the county took in $844,000 less in property taxes due to a digest decrease and less in fines by $304,000. They also took in $256,000 less in intergovernmental grants.
Sayer added that it is a good thing that they had those funds but they need to be cognizant of how they use them.
Grimes said that the Government Finance Officers Association recommends a general fund balance revenue between 15 and 25 percent.
Morgan County’s has stood at more than 37 percent since 2008. For FY2012, it stood at 40.35 percent.
The information she provided detailed how this number might change over the next two years. They used $1,915,412 for the FY2013 budget, which takes the percentage down to 25.87.
If they use the same amount for FY2014, this would reduce the percentage to 11.38.
She noted that this would give the county more flexibility in responding to bad economic times.
Grimes said they found one compliance matter and one significant deficiency during the audit.
Sayer said that the compliance matter means the county did not comply with state law.
She said that four vehicles for the sheriff’s office were bought on an installment lease but it needed to be a capital lease to be compliant.
As to the deficiency, Sayer said the county sold a piece of equipment and when she went to remove it from their asset listing, she could not find it. The “significant deficiency” means they need to keep a better listing of assets, she said.
For previous years there were more gains than losses: in 2006 a $1.7 million gain, in 2007 a $324,000 gain, in 2008 a $63,000 loss, in 2009 a $32,000 loss, in 2010 a $1.1 million gain, and in 2011 a $304,000 gain.
Public safety claims the largest percentage of expenditures at 28 with general expenditures at 18 percent and public works at 14 percent with debt at 11 percent. The county’s debt increased about $68,000.
General fund expenditures were $144,000 less than FY2011. Reductions from FY2011 to FY2012 were seen in several departments: E911 and Solid Waste reduced $166,000; hospital payment reduced $280,000; and fire department equipment reduced $53,000.
These reductions were offset partially by several increases, which include retirement costs, a computer software maintenance fee, the operation of parks and recreation, and $130,000 for Sheriff’s vehicles.
E911 had a net loss of $94,000 while the Sheriff’s Office had a net income of $16,000 from funds seized greater than their current year’s expenditures.
The Solid Waste Enterprise Fund had zero net income after a $500,000 transfer from the General Fund. This transfer allowed the fund to break even.
Grimes indicated a chart comparing the revenues and expenditures for previous fiscal years. For FY2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 these two were evenly matched. For FY2012 expenses exceeded revenues by about $2 million.
Also, revenues for FY2012 are $1.183 million less than FY2011. Lower property and sales taxes as well as fewer grants were once again mentioned.
Charges for services were under budget by $180,000. Traffic fines and forfeitures were $236,000 less than in the previous year while interest income was $21,000 less. Miscellaneous income was under the previous year’s by $131,000.
Grimes provided a comparison of Morgan County with both neighboring counties as well as similarly sized counties.
Overall, expenditures are a bit less in Morgan County than they are in other counties. Also, the direct long-term debt per person is higher than other counties, which was attributed to the county’s debt on the Public Safety Complex.
She noted that when compared to neighboring counties, Morgan County is about in the middle at 8.990 mils. When compared to counties of a similar size, Morgan County came in at the lowest.
Direct long-term debt per person in the county stands at $893 for FY2012 while the same debt in other counties stands at $737. The ratio of debt service to revenues for Morgan County stands at 12.14 percent while for other counties it stands at 22.13 percent.
Sayer said that the ratio of debt service to revenues deals with principal and interest payments compared to total revenues.
Printed in the February 7, 2013 edition