County audit returns zero findings

Published 9:44 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Beaufort County received a clean audit for fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.

Jeff Best, an accountant with Carr, Riggs & Ingram, and Anita Radcliffe, the county’s chief finance officer, presented the findings at the January meeting of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

The audit represents a turnaround for the finance department over the last two years.

“The pluses of (the audit) are that we came away with zero findings — zero audit findings — this year,” said Beaufort County Manager Brian Alligood.

The prior year’s audit came back with three findings, or weaknesses, in the finance department’s operations. It was a dramatic improvement over the 2015 audit, however, in which 13 were found, a result past officials attributed to inadequate staffing and turnover in administration.

“We corrected all those. The finance department has worked really hard to take care of those and fix those,” Alligood said. “The one thing, I think it says a lot about our finance staff and our finance director. They’ve done a lot of work to make that system stronger.”

The county closed out the year with total general fund expenditures of $56,988,836, 2.1 percent below what was budgeted for the year.

“We didn’t spend as much money as we had budgeted for last year. That was a positive,” Alligood said.

Three other elements contributing to the county’s net position increase of $2,434,616 were: an increase in property and sales tax collections; capital grants and contributions totaling $1,295,224; and a general fund draw down of the fund balance of $1,548,788.

Though revenue from ad valorem taxes increased from $31,118,009 in 2016 to $32,636,398 in 2017, a difference of $1,518,389, it can largely be attributed to a 2-cent per $100 valuation increase in property tax initiated this fiscal year rather than an increase in the tax base.

“We saw some growth, but we didn’t see a tremendous amount of growth,” Alligood said. “It’s good that we had some growth. We hope to see that continue.”

Beaufort County’s sales taxes also went from $7,978,947 in 2016 to $8,646,941 in 2017, an increase of $667,994, which Alligood chalked up to a general health in the economy, as well as the North Carolina General Assembly broadening the tax base by taxing more services.