County commissioners review budget

LaGRANGE – The Troup County Board of Commissioners reviewed the results of its annual audit, which detailed where the county’s funds came from and went to, and were glad to see that everything was in good shape.

The audit is performed every year to determine if funds are being properly used, and the results of the audit are regularly submitted to state and national groups like FEMA who have supplied funds for the county in any given year.

“(The commission) did have a positive change in (its) fund balance of $1.8 million,” said Susan Black from J.K. Boatwright & Co. who worked on the audit. “The previous year, it was a deficit of $570 thousand, so that is a really nice turnaround.”

Areas of improvement on the budget included subsidization for E-911 which the county was able to save on due to a reserve left in the fund that should remain in the fund from now on according to Black.

Another area that was of special interest to the commissioners was the percentage of employee pensions that are currently funded, which currently stands at about 75 percent of the total pension amount funded. According to Black that is a good percentage to have funded at this point in time. Troup County currently has more employees approaching retirement age than young employees at this time, which will affect how much money is needed for the pension fund in the future – especially since the fund is currently frozen for new employees – but the amount needed in the fund is expected to go down in the next few years.

“Right now we’re peaking or still going up a little bit for a few more years, and then we should start leveling off and going down,” said County Manager Todd Tentler. “We do have an older work force.”

According to Black, the funding for the pension funds is “steady” but may come down as older employees exit the workforce.

Overall, the annual audit went smoothly, and the commissioners were glad to hear that Troup County was doing a good job with managing its finances in comparison to other local counties.

“I’d say you’re better (than other counties) just from what I’ve seen as far as checks and balances and how you run your offices,” said Black. “… It’s a pretty well-oiled machine. I mean things do change when the officers change out, but that would be the last piece of the pie: getting the courts and officers and constitutional officers to get their records better, and they are improving each year on that.”

The new commissioners both expressed their positive outlooks on where the county is at and where it is going.

“What I see from the time I’ve been here, I’ve been very impressed with the way this county is run,” said Commissioner Lewis Davis. “I’m sure there are things that we can do better, but from what I can tell so far, I’m proud of it.”

According to both the budget review and the experience of commissioners, the budget has gotten better over time.

“I think one of the most important things is over the last ten years, we’re finally beginning to see a little move in our revenues, and that has not been true for the past ten years,” said Commission Chairman Patrick Crews. “And so we are hopefully coming out of that for a little bit, and (there will be) a lot brighter days ahead.”

According to Black, the county has done a good job of keeping down expenses, but the revenue has not shown much improvement. The full picture was a positive one though.

 

“It’s very solid, Troup County as a whole,” said Black.

According to senior commissioners, Troup County may even serve as an example to other counties in the area.

“I have a chance to brag on Troup County and what we are doing,” said Commissioner Richard English, who works with other groups on the state and national levels. “And they say, how do you do that? And I say, we’ve got good folks, good staff… Since I’ve been here these 30 something years, we’ve never had to borrow any money to operate, but there are a whole lot of other counties just in our area that have to borrow money to operate.”

Many counties and cities have to borrow money in anticipation of property tax revenues, but because of the way that Troup County manages their funds they have not had to borrow any funds.

The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report can be found at http://www.troupcountyga.org/media/Troup%20County%20CAFR%20YE%206.30.16.pdf

The Troup County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet again on Jan. 17 at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Ave.

Reach Alicia B. Hill at alicia.hill@lagrangenews.com or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.