Washington County comes out ‘clean’

Published 4:07 am Monday, January 22, 2007

By Staff
Government functioning well, say accountants
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
When the Washington County Board of Commissioners reconvened Jan. 16, Chairman Billy Corey asked if “everyone had their seatbelts on” before hearing an annual report on the county’s financial status.
Chris Burton of Pittard, Perry and Crone, an area accounting firm, and Gail Critcher, the county’s finance officer, presented the results of the county’s annual audit to the board.
During the auditing process there were “noted no matters involving the internal control structure and its operations that (the auditors) consider to be material weaknesses …,” according to a letter to the board from Pittard, Perry and Crone.
Primarily because of an increase in the county’s general fund, the county’s net assets have grown more than $1 million in the past year. That brought the total dollar value of the county’s assets to more than $11.2 million.
County Manager David Peoples said in an interview Sunday evening that the county is “tickled to death with the audit.”
Peoples referred to a property revaluation that went into effect Jan. 1, 2005 which increased the value of the county’s real property by 32 percent. By simultaneously lowering the tax rate from 101.5 to .79 cents per $100 valuation, more money was collected at a lesser burden to the taxpayer, Peoples said.
State and federal funding for human services such as Medicaid and the food-stamp program caught Corey’s attention.
The federal government paid out more than $17 million to needy citizens of the county last year. The state paid those same residents nearly $7 million, according to the audit report.
Burton explained that the compared to those totals, the county pays out about $2.6 million in benefits to its needy citizens. These funds are not included in the general audit because they are paid directly to recipients by the state and U.S. governments, and are not county expenditures.
Commissioner Raymond McCray solicited a condensed overview of the report from Critcher and Burton.
Burton’s answer was “Yes sir, it does. You are lucky to have (Critcher) working for you. Her office is doing a great job.”