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County receives clean bill of financial health

Keith Strange
Civitas News Service

10 months 22 days 22 hours ago |7 Views | | | Email | Print

DOBSON — Surry County’s finances received a clean bill of health during an annual audit report presented to the Board of Commissioners during its last meeting.


Reporting to the board, Erica Brown, senior audit manager for Martin, Starnes & Associates, told the group that the county had received an unqualified audit opinion, “the best opinion you can get.”


“We found no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses,” Brown said. “We found a staff fully prepared and cooperative.”


The audit, which accounted for the county’s finances through this past June 30, found a 5 percent increase in revenues, to $74.6 million.


Expenditures in the county totaled $73.2 million, a 1 percent increase over FY 2010-2011, Brown said.


But perhaps the best news for the county was a 2 percent increase in the county’s available fund balance, unencumbered money in the county’s coffers that can be used for local obligations.


Brown told the board that the county’s total fund balance increased by about 5 percent last year, to $14,931,418. The balance increased by $1.7 million over the previous year.


“The available fund balance this year totals about 20.4 percent of the general fund, and is an increase of about 2 percent,” she said.


According to Brown, the state’s Local Government Commission, which oversees localities’ audit reports, has already approved Surry County’s results.


County Manager Chris Knopf said he was pleased with the results of the audit.


“I think as in years past, it came out very well,” he said. “It shows that all our departments, and especially our financial department, work very hard to well-manage the county’s finances.”


Knopf said he was glad to hear the available fund balance increased by a full 2 percent.


“In the past few years, we’ve seen a decrease in the available fund balance, and it’s just great to reverse that trend,” he said. “We’d love to see that continue in years to come.”


The county manager credits frugal management by all county employees with the increase.


“Last year our departments and outside agencies really tightened their belts and lowered their budget requests, which helped us bring down the cost of doing business,” he said.


But in order for that trend to continue, Knopf said he is already looking on the horizon.


“Our board is really concerned about revenues, especially when you look at how our motor vehicle taxes will be collected next year,” he said.


In years past, the county has handled the collections, which total about $3 million in annual revenue. Starting next year, those collections will be taken care of on the state level.


“Any variation below what we collect now won’t be a positive thing for us,” Knopf warned.


Reach Keith Strange at kstrange@heartlandpublications.com or 719-1929.

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