Audit report: All Polk County departments ended under budget

Published 7:34 pm Thursday, December 1, 2011

Polk County reduced its fund balance last year by $370,609, but paid off about $2 million in debt and each department came in under budget.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday, Nov. 21 and reviewed the fiscal year 2010-2011 audit report prepared by Gould Killian CPA Group, P.A.
Polk County ended the year with a 27.1 percent fund balance, or $6,044,488 of available reserves. The county’s general fund also ended the year with $1,796,682 in revenues over expenditures, which is what the county would have added to its fund balance if it hadn’t paid off debt. The debt payments however, saved the county $362,512 in interest.
Using fund balance to pay off debt has been a topic of disagreement amongst commissioners throughout the year.
Commissioner Tom Pack said last week if the county had not used $2 million in fund balance it would have ended the year about $1.63 million to the better.
Commissioner Renée McDermott said Pack seems to be saying paying off debt is a bad thing. She said she would like to see the county have no debt and build up reserves to do work that needs to be done in the future, such as Lake Adger Dam repairs, future water lines and constructing a water plant.
“We need to be conservative with our budget,” McDermott said, “not looking to spend as much as we can.”
Pack responded that his comment was misconstrued and he worked for a company that had zero debt.
“Yes, we paid off some debt, but we did it on the backs of the county employees,” Pack said.
Upcoming employee raises was also a topic of discussion last week. Commissioners who commented all agreed next year the county should fund employee raises.
“Employees have not been recognized with a raise since 2009,” said commissioner Ted Owens.
Owens also suggested commissioners go ahead and start working on next year’s budget and instruct the manager to implement raises for employees first, funding for education next and funding for maintenance next.
“Maybe we’ll have a real easy budget next year,” McDermott responded.
She said she’s already talked to the county manager Ryan Whitson about getting the employees raises next year, as well as giving the schools more money.
“It will have been four years (since employees got a raise) and that’s an awfully long time,” McDermott said.
The county brought in $158,018 more in ad valorem taxes last year than budgeted with actual tax ad valorem revenue at $14,257,243. Actual total revenues were $21,810,677 compared to $21,360,938 that the county budgeted.
Polk County’s departments spent a total of $21,636,188 in its general fund.
Polk County’s long-term debt dropped from $16,578,288 in 2009-2010 to $14,884,661 in 2010-2011, according to the audit report.
The tax collection rate for fiscal year 2010-2011 was 96.66 percent total, including for property tax and motor vehicles. The property tax collection rate was 97.16 percent and the motor vehicle tax collection rate was 88.29 percent.
Commissioners agreed to hold a budget work session after the first of the year to discuss next year’s budget.

Polk’s fund balance last 5 years
Available            General
Fiscal year    fund balance    fund expenses      % of GF
2007                 $7,276,793      $21,026,894        34.6%
2008                 $7,679,650     $22,617,013         34%
2009                 $6,107,233     $24,377,085        25.1%
2010                  $7,058,899    $20,846,096       33.9%
2011                   $6,044,488    $22,291,869        27.1%

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox