The Stokes County commissioners received good news on Monday about the 2011-12 fiscal year audit. The county has received an unqualified, or “clean,” opinion, according to Cindy Moseley with Martin Starnes and Associates.
Moseley said there were no findings or questioned costs and no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses. Revenues and expenditures both went up slightly from the previous year, and there was a roughly $1.5 million increase in the total fund balance, which now nears $14.8 million.
The county’s available fund balance, which is equal to total fund balance less non-spendables and less the stabilization by state statute, rose by about $1.7 million and now sits at around $13 million. Available fund balance as a percent of expenditures — a figure heavily monitored by the state — rose from 28 percent in 2011 to 31 percent in 2012. Last year the state changed the way the fund balance is calculated, but the county is still far above where it was even a few years ago. The county’s percentage in 2011 — the most recent year that data for all counties was completed — was above both the statewide and comparable population group averages.
“Overall it was a really good year,” said Moseley.
County Finance Director Julia Edwards pointed out that in the 2001-02 fiscal year, the fund balance was below four percent. That percentage has risen to nearly 28 percent in 2012 when calculating according to the old formula.
“So we have come a long way in the last 10 years,” she noted.
Edwards also pointed out that the finance department still does a quarterly review of departments, and if departments are not using funds then they are taken out of the budget. County Manager Rick Morris noted that the county is taking back less and less every year because departments are budgeting leaner.
The commissioners congratulated staff on good management of resources and the successful audit.
The board could not be handed the full audit report yet, because the audit still awaits review from the Local Government Commission. Moseley said they expect to receive the required response soon.
Also during the meeting:
• A public hearing was held for the Solid Waste Ten-Year Management Plan. Patti Dunlap spoke to address the issue of glass only being recyclable at the county dump. The board later approved the solid waste plan but also discussed costs associated with offering additional glass recycling options.
• During the public comment session, representatives from the Northwestern Regional Library System were present to hand out fliers about participation at libraries over the past year. John Hedrick, executive director, spoke in detail about the ebook program now offered at the public libraries in the system. He said, “This is a big step up.”
• Commissioner Leon Inman pointed out that the resolution in the consent agenda regarding the county’s opposition to wind projects in low-level military flight training areas was simply in reference to a specific case which could hinder military training. He said the county certainly supports alternative energy and is not against wind energy projects.
• Commissioner Jimmy Walker asked Tax Administrator Jake Oakley for an update on the revaluation of property taxes and Oakley said the commissioners will find out in January what the final figures are going to be.
• The commissioners discussed the county manager’s recommendation to establish an E911 Governance Board. Board Chairman Ernest Lankford suggested making it an advisory board, but not a governing one. Morris plans to meet with local emergency communication leaders informally to discuss ideas on moving forward, then he will bring the matter back to the commissioners.