Northampton projects balanced budget

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

JACKSON – Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins smiled as he presented the year-end report of the county’s General Fund Revenue/Expenditure Report Comparison to commissioners here last week.

At first glance, the figures reflected what would be considered bad news for the county, showing an un-audited deficit of $19,738 out of two million dollars for fiscal year 2004. However, further explanation revealed a more positive perspective.

Jenkins stated that since the county had not received reimbursement from its sales taxes for June 2004, the figures did not reflect an accurate picture of the county’s finances. &uot;Those figures reflect a deficit, but when we receive funds from the sales tax distribution, that will allow us to add that additional revenue and will likely create a positive fund balance for that month,&uot; he said.

According to Jenkins, the county is expecting to receive that reimbursement on September 15.

&uot;If everything goes the way we’re expecting it to, we will probably have more than the $19,738 figure,&uot; said Jenkins, &uot;and with that being said, that will mean the county has operated on a true balance budget for fiscal year 2004.&uot;

Additionally, Jenkins noted that two new departments, the Human Resources and E-911 Communications, were fully funded through fiscal year 2004 with a combined cost of $381,413 which is an additional cost of $240,804 when compared to fiscal year 2003 with a cost of $140,683.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Northampton County citizen John Slaton commended the commissioners for their efforts stating, &uot;I compliment you on the way you’re doing business, for staying on a true budget and for all the efforts you make to serve the citizens of Northampton County. We appreciate it.&uot;

Jenkins also presented a letter from Standard & Poor’s of McGraw-Hill Companies on public finance reflecting the county’s improved credit profile. According to the report, published on August 20, 2004, the company determined Northampton County to have a stable outlook and stated that the county’s financial position has improved and is now favorable with comfortable reserve levels.

The company also stated that county finance officials were optimistic that favorable fiscal 2005 results would allow Northampton to reach a target unreserved fund balance of 20 percent of total expenditures. Preliminary fiscal 2004 projects indicate that the unreserved fund balance will approach 18 percent of expenditures.

Standard & Poor’s attributes the county’s low debt burden to its limited capital needs and projects the county’s financial position will remain positive with a low debt burden as future capital needs are addressed.

Presently, the county is committed to a total of $17 million in capital outlay with $8 million invested in water system improvements to be supported by user fees and $9 million recently approved in a referendum for the construction of a new school.