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Northampton receives clean audit

JACKSON – Good news came in threes last week.

The Northampton County Commissioners found out their water fund is improving, their undesignated fund balance has grown and there were no problems in the audit of last year’s financials.

&uot;It sounds like good news,&uot; Commission Chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill (D-2nd) said.

&uot;It should,&uot; replied auditor Bryan Starnes.

Starnes said he was frankly surprised at the fund balance and said the county had done a lot of work to improve the fund balance which now stands at just over $5.1 million. The balance increased by $658,538 (22.6 percent of the general fund expenditures).

As he progressed to the rest of the audit, Starnes said the results were all good.

&uot;This year I think you’ll like all the results,&uot; Starnes said. &uot;There are no questioned costs, no management letter and the opinion is an unqualified one.&uot;

Also key was the increase in property valuation throughout Northampton County. The values have risen from $1.12 billion in 2002 to $1.19 billion in 2005 without a revaluation of the county.

Starnes also credited the tax collection rate in Northampton County, saying the high rate was a sign that not only was the tax department doing a good job, but the citizens were paying their bills.

A concern Starnes had noted in the 2004 audit was the water and sewer fund because of the high level of debt service compared to income. He said the 2005 audit showed the fund improving steadily.

&uot;This year you showed a profit in the fund,&uot; Starnes said. &uot;The good news is the water fund is on its way.&uot;

Following the meeting, Finance Officer Dot Vick said there were many people involved in such a successful audit.

&uot;I think the departments stayed within their budgets and everybody worked together,&uot; Vick said. &uot;All the department heads worked hard to help us.

&uot;All-in-all we did a good budget and stuck to it,&uot; she noted. &uot;The departments worked hard and we were able to handle Medicaid within the budget.&uot;

She added, &uot;The Commissioners also did a good job of what they approved. When you do a good budget, there are no expected surprises.&uot;