County officials review finances

Washington County’s finances are well in order, said county officials at the Finance Committee of Washington County meeting Tuesday.

During the monthly meeting, County Auditor Bill McFarland said the first important thing to do is make sure the auditor and treasurer’s numbers balance to make sure the county is in balance.

“The treasurer shows $33,101,816.68 in the bank and…we’re in balance at that same number,” he said.

He said when checking the finances of the county another important thing to look at is the “fund balance” numbers.

“It’s just to make sure that through hook, crook or bad luck nothing slipped through the system and threw a fund into a negative cash balance,” he said. “That would not consciously happen…Indeed, all the funds are in the positive.”

He said that one substantial factor is cash flow, which is currently in the negatives.

“As of this report, the cash flow, not cash balance, in the county’s general fund for the first five months of the year has been a negative $436,000,” said McFarland. “Just as an update, I review these reports every Monday morning; as of June 16, the negative cash flow was $984,000.”

He said that oftentimes any money left over toward the end of the year is used as cash flow.

“The timing of our revenues and disbursements is not always a static activity,” he said, which means expenditures can sometimes exceed revenue coming in at any given time. “That’s not a matter of gloom and doom.”

McFarland said while checking county numbers there are some “potential stress indicators,” which might be of some interest to look at, while acknowledging that many funds are not static.

“Some may get all their money in one fell swoop or a couple times a year,” he said.

Some of the funds where expenditures are currently exceeding revenue are the juvenile computer fund, municipal court probation services and the Board of Developmental Disabilities federal account.

“This should not be considered that there’s any big problem in any way, shape or form,” McFarland said. “Many of these, the board of commissioners would know that everything’s fine…it’s just a matter of timing.”

Clerk Rick Peoples acknowledged there was an issue with one of the funds having more money encumbered that what the current balance is: the Highland Ridge water project.

“That money was just received, so it’s going to be paid in today,” he said.

McFarland said sales tax is doing great for bringing in revenue, which has gone up across the board for motor vehicles and local sales tax.

“If you look at the whole general fund, unencumbered, right now…we’ve got $13.5 million left out of $23.5 million that was originally budgeted and appropriated,” McFarland said. “We’ve got 57 percent left. We’re just about right where we ought to be.

Commission President Ron Feathers said there is currently no issue with the county finances and the meeting is a part of the process to let everyone know progress and funds that may need a second look down the road.

“The county funds and expenditures are on track,” he said.