County gets a clean audit report

Published 5:35 pm Thursday, February 6, 2014

Beaufort County’s financial dealings in the 2012-2013 fiscal year got a clean bill of health in the county’s latest audit report.

That report was presented Monday during the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners’ meeting. Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, the county’s auditors, gave an unmodified opinion, according to Matt Braswell, who works for the firm. It’s the highest-level opinion awarded, he told the commissioners.

The county’s fund balance (rainy-day fund) increased by $3.3 million from the 2011-2012 fiscal year to the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2013. That meant the fund balance increased from 25.56 percent of the county’s general fund to 32.68 percent of the county’s general fund.

As of June 30, 2013, the fund balance was at $21 million, but almost $5 million of that fund balance is not available for immediate use by the county.

Although the county has a $21 million fund balance, that doesn’t mean the county can use all of it in any way it sees fit. State law places restrictions on how some of the fund balance may be spent. The county restricts use of some of the fund balance. With the available fund balance at nearly 33 percent of general-fund expenditures, the county more than meets the Local Government Commission’s recommendation that a local government have an amount equal to at least 8 percent of its general fund in its fund balance, or “rainy day” fund to cover unexpected expenditures. That 8 percent equates to a month’s revenues for a local government.

The county’s policy is to have a fund balance that’s 34 percent of its general fund, according to Jim Chrisman, the county’s assistance county manager and chief financial officer. The county sets a higher standard so it is in a better position to pay for expenses related to natural disasters such as hurricanes, he said.

With the county’s fund balance at nearly 33 percent of its general fund, the county has almost four months’ worth of cash in reserve.

For at least fiscal two years in a row, the county’s revenues exceeded its expenditures, according to the report. The annual audit makes sure the county’s financial dealing comply with federal, state and other financial-reporting standards.




About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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