County receives annual audit results

Published 7:26 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2018

After months of number crunching, the Troup County Board of Commissioners received the final results of the audit of the previous fiscal year last week, and the commissioners were pleased with the results.

Counties are required to have their finances audited annually, and the audit for Troup County’s previous year has been approved by the state of Georgia and the Government Finance Officers Association. The auditing process typically takes several months since it requires an outside agency to review every part of the county’s finances from the juvenile court to the board of health to the commission itself.

This year’s audit showed the county to be financially sound according to the representative from J.K. Boatwright & Co., who presented her findings. According to Commission Chairman Patrick Crews, the county currently has enough saved to operate for roughly three months in the event of a financial crisis.

“We have been, I think, very fiscally conservative, and we have done some steps to save money,” Crews said. “We’ve also been able to pass — though it is not visible in the audit yet — things that we’ve been able to do to reward our employees without going into debt and still remain very (financially) solid.”

The closure of the correctional institute on June 30, 2017, was not reflected on the audit. Commissioners have said on numerous occasions that the primary reason for that closure was in order to remain financially soluble long term, and Crews said in the meeting that he expects next year’s audit and finances to look even better as a result of the closure.

“The general fund — which I’m going to concentrate on — at June 30 (the last day of the previous fiscal year) had a fund balance of almost $14 million, and of that $14 million, over $13.3 (million) was unassigned available,” said Susan Black, the lead auditor with J.K. Boatwright & Co. “Of that $13.3, over $11 million was sitting in the bank in cash, so you are very sound.”

Several commissioners said that they were pleased with where the county is at financially.

“I am happy that we have the money set to the side to run for three and a half months if something (happened) because you’d be surprised at the counties that don’t have (that),” Commissioner Morris Jones said.

It was also noted that Troup County typically does keep a reserve on hand.

This reserve can be critical during times when the financial market sees upheaval like it did in 2007 and 2008 during the Great Recession.

Currently, the county’s reserve is still a little below what it has been historically according to another commissioner.

“I know over the years we have stayed, around six months operating (cost),” Commissioner Richard English said.

A large part of that financial stability can be attributed to the current property tax and sales tax rate, according to Black.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners has not raised the millage rate since 2013.

“The county’s total net position is $126 million,” Black said.

“There is another statement that goes along with that, the statement of activities … and it is a great statement to look at because it starts out showing you the expenses of the different categories — from general government, judicial, public safety — and then you are looking at what monies come in to help service those departments — charges for services, any grants that come in. The end result is, the cost of all these departments is about $43 million more than the actual revenues coming in to service that from fines and things, but what ends out covering that is the property taxes and sales tax.”

Other notable points in the audit discussion included the growth of an endowment from the Callaway Foundation for Troup County Parks and Recreation and $6.7 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV spending.

There was still approximately $125,000 left in the SPLOST III fund that the county could spend, according to the audit.

The county typically invests money from SPLOST prior to spending it in order to gain additional funds through interest.

Troup County has been awarded for its audit by GFOA for 28 years in a row, according to Black.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet again on Feb. 20 at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Ave.