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County gets good FY08 audit report

by Larry S. Chowning

Seal of Middlesex County, VA
Even though there are budgetary concerns in Middlesex County, the most recent audit that ended June 30, 2008 (FY08) does not reflect any major financial health problems for the county.

Auditors have indicated to Middlesex supervisors that the county is financially sound, but that the fund balance of $7,278,849 is $929,878 less than in FY07. Approximately 87 percent of the fund balance is available for spending at the county’s discretion, and these funds are used throughout the year to pay bills when the cash flow becomes a problem.

On June 30, 2008, unreserved funds for general fund use were $6,320,371—or 36 percent of the total general fund expenditures and other uses.

The assets of the county exceeded its liabilities at the close of FY08 by $11,448,712. The combined long-term obligations decreased $362,942.

Revenues were up from FY07 by $1,363,485 and of this most came from increases in general property taxes.  There was $10,528,167 collected in general property taxes in FY08, up from $9,370,023 in FY 07.

Charges for fees increased from $380,545 in FY07 to $531,653 in FY08. Operating grants and contributions were $2,242,986 in FY07 compared to $2,615,005 in FY08. All other general revenues were down.

On the expense side, two categories decreased from FY07 to FY08—funds spent on community development decreased from $340,485 to $316,946, and judicial administration cost decreased from $907,113 to $860,501.

Everything else went up—general government administration jumped from $1,403,919 in FY07 to $1,528,519 in FY08; public safety increased from $2,498,709 to $2,758,650; public works was up from $1,738,886 to $1,972,545; health and welfare was up from $1,385,778 to $1,769,112; education was up from $6,545,863 to $6,592,497; parks, recreation and culture was up from $162,173 to $215,643; and interest and other fiscal charges were up from $1,264,784 to $1,354,087.

The county has $27,545,761 of outstanding long-term debt. Of this amount, $672,348 comprises debt backed by the full faith and credit of the county. The remainder of the county’s debt represents bonds secured solely through specified revenue sources.

Other items in the audit state that Middlesex County has an unemployment rate of 4 percent, which compares favorably to the national average of 5.5 percent in FY08. This national average does not reflect unemployment in the current 2008-09 (FY09) economic recession.

Middlesex County Administrator Charles Culley indicated this week that complete budget figures now show the economic health of Middlesex is not as bad as he first feared when he informed supervisors last week of cash flow problems.

Culley indicated he would explain the county’s financial situation further at a supervisors’ budget workshop on Thursday, April 2, at 1 p.m. at the historic courthouse in Saluda. The meeting is open to the public.

posted 04.01.2009

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