Audit: County is fiscally sound
By Larry S. Chowning
An audit for fiscal year 2006-07 (FY07) indicates the financial status of Middlesex County continues to look good, but the fund balance has dropped.
The audit was issued to the county in March by the auditing firm of Robinson, Farmer & Cox of Richmond.
The audit states that at the end of the fiscal year in June 2007, the county had an ending fund balance of $8,208,727—a $247,321 decrease from the FY06 fund balance. This was because more county funds were spent than were budgeted.
It also stated that the county’s unreserved fund balance for the general fund was $6,808,116. These funds are used to operate the county if budgeted funds run out before the next tax collection period begins.
The combined long-term obligations (debts) decreased $428,912 during the current fiscal year. The county still has bonded debt of $25,293,412. Of this amount, $843,412 comprises debt backed by the full faith and credit of the county. The remainder of the county’s debt represents bonds secured solely by specified revenue sources. During the current fiscal year, the county’s bonded debt decreased by $685,000.
In general fund highlights, the audit states the difference between the original FY07 budget and the final amended budget was an increase of $651,989. There was a $105,693 increase in general government administration; $213,657 in public safety; $120,884 in public works; $13,324 in education; and $198,431 spread throughout other general fund departments. During FY07 revenues were $15,819,682, compared to $15,066,681 in FY06. Expenses for FY07 were $16,247,710, compared to $14,680,917 in FY06 year.
In general revenues for FY07, real estate taxes continue to provide the bulk of the county’s income. General property taxes brought in $9,370,023 —up $8,876,242 in FY06. Local sales and use taxes totaled $928,781; consumers’ utility taxes, $349,087; other local taxes, $1,149,092; unrestricted revenues from use of money and property, $354,712; miscellaneous, $229,009; and grants and contributions not restricted to specific programs, $815,447.
The local contribution to eduction in FY07 was $6,545,863. General government administration cost $1,403,919; judicial administration, $907,113; public safety, $2,498,709; public works, $1,738,886; health and welfare, $1,385,778; parks, recreation and cultural, $162,173; community development, $340,485; and interest on long-term debt, $1,264,784.
The audit also spoke to the economic state of the community. The unemployment rate for the county in FY07 compares favorably to the state’s average unemployment rate of 3.2 percent and the national average rate of 4.5 percent.
Inflationary trends in the region compare favorably to national indexes, stated the audit.
The FY08 budget increased by approximately 5.6 percent, but the tax rate remained the same as the previous year, noted the audit.