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Audit: Troup County government financially strong

Tyler H. Jones

tjones@civitasmedia.com

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LaGRANGE — The Troup County government’s financial health was sound in fiscal year 2014 despite a weak national economy, according to an external audit presented to county commissioners Friday by an independent accounting firm.

The county’s revenues exceeded expenses by about $2.6 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014, said Susan Black of the independent auditing firm J.K. Boatwright & Co. That $2.6 million, though, is before transfers between some of the county’s 51 bank accounts. Of that $2.6 million, $900,000 was transferred to the fund that pays for the 911 communications center, and an additional $900,000 was spent on construction projects that weren’t paid for by special-purpose, local-option sales – SPLOST – taxes, Black told commissioners during their work session at the government center.

At the end of fiscal 2014, the county had about $11.6 million in unrestricted funds — up to about $800,000 from last year. Those unrestricted funds could run the county’s day-to-day operations for a little more than three months, Black said.

Auditors recommended the county aim for six months of on-hand cash. Black told commissioners the county’s “cash position is in pretty good shape.”

Black said that Spaulding County, which in 2014 had a fiscal budget of similar size to Troup’s, has only $1 million in unrestricted funds in their coffers.

In total, the county raised about $54.7 million in revenues, Black said.

The county did not issue any new debt in fiscal 2014, the report noted, and, by contributing $2 million to the county employees’ pension plan, is currently meeting its retirement benefit obligations.

Currently, the funds raised by voter-approved SPLOSTs I and II have been exhausted and the remaining balance of the SPLOST III funds are expected to be completely spent by the end of this month, according to Tod Tentler, county manager. SPLOST IV, which is divided into a county-wide and county-specific portions, is receiving about 92 percent of what was expected to be raised, Tentler said. In fiscal 2014, SPLOST brought in $14.4 million, Black said.

The county-wide SPLOST was approved by voters for projects including road, street and bridge improvement, recreation facilities, libraries and a court technology system. The county-specific SPLOST was approved for specific projects related to road, street and bridge improvement, public safety and energy-efficiency and sustainability projects.

“I get a lot of questions from people about SPLOST,” said Patrick Crews, commission chairman. “The main thing we want communicated to the public is there are no old SPLOST I or II funds sitting around.”

SPLOST funds are restricted by law in how the money can be spent; commissioners are required to spend the money on projects for which the voters approved the SPLOST. For example, if a SPLOST is approved by voters for upgrades in the public safety departments, commissioners are barred by law from taking that money and building a new recreational water park.

Black said a thorough audit of county SPLOST spending did not find any instances of mismanagement of funds.

The full comprehensive annual financial report may be accessed online at the county’s website, www.troupcountyga.org. The link is labeled “CAFR 2014 Troup County” and is located at the bottom of the homepage.

Tyler H. Jones is a reporter for LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.