County general fund down more than $11.3 million since ’07


Spalding County officials on Monday, Feb. 18, received a presentation from Miller Edwards, of Mauldin & Jenkins, the certified public accountants who conducted the county’s annual audit.

According to Edwards, the process undertaken in Spalding County exceeds that of many comparable areas.

“Y’all choose to go to a higher level. There might be 20 counties that put it together in such a fashion and you’re one of them,” Miller said of the comprehensive financial report.

Overall, Miller said Spalding County’s fiscal health is good, but not ideal.

“You’ve got liquid net worth, but you don’t have liquid net worth to do what you want,” he said, adding that as of June 30, 2012, Spalding County had a positive net change of $4,256,735. “You actually built equity in the county, and that’s a good thing.”

Edwards said the financial data included in his report represented a snapshot of the county’s finances as of the last day of Fiscal Year 2012.

Edwards reported that the FY 2012 revenues totaling $37,874,401 represented a shortfall of $1,168,215. He explained that the economic recession had affected Spalding County by reducing property tax and sales tax collections, and that building permits, court fines and fees and interest earnings were all negatively impacted, resulting in the declining revenues.

Edwards said this is a scenario being repeated nationwide as the economy continues to struggle.

He referenced neighboring Henry County, which only a few years ago was ranked one of the fastest growing counties in the country, but is now struggling against budget deficits.

Spalding County, on the other hand, maintains a positive fund balance. Edwards said it is of some concern that as of June 30, 2012, the unassigned fund balance of the general fund was $1,289,814, or one month’s value. That represents the amount of money available for spending at officials’ discretion.

“The question becomes what is the correct amount of fund balance,” he said. “On a June 30 schedule what Spalding County has is lean, or skinny. You have only one month worth in a very lean time to be moving forward.”

He explained that the general fund balance decreased by just over $600,000 during the fiscal year, citing as causes the collection of lower than anticipated revenues and a large, unforeseen increase in county employees’ insurance premiums.

Overall revenues came in at $37,874,401, falling short of the original budgeted amount of $39,358,672.

Meanwhile, expenditures came in somewhat better than anticipated, with officials originally estimating losses of $1,939,001, but final figures showing that amount lessened by more than $1.1 million.

“Revenues aren’t what they used to be,” Edwards said. “That’s what we’ve got to do when revenues don’t come in.”

Even so, he praised Spalding County leaders for efforts to maintain a positive fund balance in the midst of challenging economic times.

Edwards said previous fiscal years of greater abundance positioned Spalding County to better weather the recent recession.

As recently as 2006, Spalding County enjoyed a general fund balance of more than $11 million. Had the county not had that balance, Edwards said officials could now be facing deficit spending.


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