Polk banks highest fund balance ever at 40 percent last year

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2014

by Leah Justice

Polk County’s fund balance, or savings available for spending reached its highest percentage ever on June 30, 2014 at 40.2 percent of its general fund. The actual amount of savings available was $8,460,188 as of June 30, 2014, which is the highest amount of unrestricted fund balance ever recorded in Polk County.

County commissioners met Nov. 17 with Brian Bloom, of Dixon, Hughes, Goodman, LLP to review last fiscal year’s audit report.

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Bloom said there were no negative issues to report, with the county reporting a 40.2 percent fund balance compared to last year’s 32.2 percent fund balance.

Fund balance percentage is the total amount the county has in savings as a percentage of the total general fund expenditures for each year. The county’s total fund balance, including restricted amounts for fiscal year ending June 30, 2014 was $9,507,313, which is also the largest amount of total fund balance the county has ever saved.

Fiscal year 2012-2013’s total fund balance was $7,942,581, according to the audit report.

The state recommends local governments keep a minimum of eight percent in fund balance. Bloom said eight percent usually represents one month’s worth of expenses.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson mentioned that since the beginning of this fiscal year, which began on July 1, the county has spent over $2 million of the fund balance on projects such as water lines and to balance the current year budget.

For the current 2014-2015 budget, Polk County used $474,719 of fund balance to balance the budget for one-time capital purchases, according to the audit report.

Bloom also said the county’s property taxes and sales taxes came in much stronger than the county anticipated last year, at about $1.4 million more.

Polk County budgeted to receive $13,796,392 in ad valorem tax revenue last year and actually received $14,588,829 for a positive gain of $792,437, according to the audit report.

The county budgeted last year to receive $2,679,613 in local option sales taxes and actually received $3,232,234 for a positive gain of $552,621, according to the audit.

Bloom said property taxes are the lifeblood of the county and the tax collection rate increased last year over the prior year. The 2013-2014 tax collection rate was 97.46 percent compared to 96.98 percent collected in fiscal year 2012-2013, according to the audit. Polk collected approximately $14.5 million in taxes last year compared to approximately $14.3 million in year-end 2013, Bloom said. There was $368,978 uncollected taxes at year-end 2014, compared to $431,696 uncollected at year-end 2013, according to the report.

Bloom said one of the main reason counties are seeing higher tax collection rates is because of the change in vehicle tax collection. The state is now collecting taxes on vehicles at the same time vehicle registrations are renewed.

Polk County issues a comprehensive financial report for its annual audit that goes beyond what is required, including statistical data. This year marked Polk’s 18th year of Polk County receiving an award for its financial reporting through the governor’s association.


Polk County’s fund balances 2007-2014

Fiscal year   Fund balance (available) Percent

2007              $7,276,793                           34.6

2008              $7,679,650                           34

2009              $6,107,233                           25.1

2010              $7,058,899                           33.9

2011              $6,044,488                           27.1

2012              $6,839,732                           30.6

2013              $7,157,371                           32.2

2014              $8,460,188                           40.2