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HC Audit receive praise

WINTON – The news was good.

Hertford County’s government officials were pleased to learn that the audit of the county’s financial records for the 2006-07 fiscal year revealed a clean bill of health.

Tuesday night, Oxford based auditor Jim Winston presented the Hertford County Board of Commissioners the county’s 06-07 audit report. The audit showed that the county’s finances were headed in the right direction, including increases in net assets, General Fund revenues and appropriated fund balance.

“What you have in this report is an unqualified opinion, a clean opinion and that’s what you want,” Winston said. “The audit found nothing out of order.”

During his powerpoint presentation, Winston said the county’s assets increased from $15.7 million (05-06) to $16.4 million by the end of 06-07. General Fund revenues were up slightly between the two fiscal year budgets, increasing from $22.8 million to $22.805 million.

“You are going in the right direction,” Winston remarked.

He praised the county’s tax department staff by reporting a collection rate of 96.13 percent (just slightly below the state average of 96.63 percent).

The county’s appropriated fund balance also increased for the second straight year, this time by nearly a half-million dollars ($461,887).

“We were able to under spend projected expenses while revenues exceeded our expectations,” Williams later told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. “We were really worried about the revenue, but were very pleased when it came in more than expected.”

If there was one slight bump in the financial road, it came during Winston’s report of percentage of unreserved fund balance. That balance came in at 20.61 percent, down from 23.4 percent during the previous year’s audit. However, as Winston pointed out, that figure all hinges on timing.

“If you check that figure right now, it may be above 23.4 percent, which, by the way, is right at the state average,” Winston said. “It’s all an issue of timing.”

To prove his point, Winston made reference to $900,000 of outstanding revenue that was carried over from 06-07 to the current 07-08 budget year. The county may have received all or a portion of that revenue after the start of the current budget year (July 1, 2007). However, state law prohibits local governments from including past due revenue in building a new fiscal year budget.

“That’s a good thing,” Williams said later. “We don’t include that revenue in our budget until the money is in hand. It looks nice on paper, but you can’t count on it until it’s actually received.”

At the end of Winston’s presentation, the commissioners approved the audit report and offered congratulations to the financial/tax office staff for a job well done.