Northampton revenues grow

Published 6:36 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2008

JACKSON—Northampton County government is in good financial shape given the current economic crisis.

That was the message here Monday morning from Auditor Bryan Starnes from Martin-Starnes & Associates as he gave a financial report to the Board of Commissioners.

According to Starnes’s report, the county’s revenues are at $27.7 million, while expenditures stand at $25.9 million. Starnes said the county’s revenues grew by $360,000 as a reaction to the release of unused E911 wireless funds into the general fund. It was later reported $100,000 of that money has been drawn down for the Emergency Operations building.

The fund balance stands at $4.9 million with required reservation of $1.6 million, leaving the unreserved fund balance at $3.26 million.

Starnes reported the county’s general fund unreserved fund balance to be at 13 percent, a considerable growth in comparison to last year’s five percent.

Though the percentage is not at the 16 percent the county saw in 2006, Starnes said it was back to the point where “you can breathe a little bit.”

Starnes encourage to the commissioners for the county to adopt a fund balance policy to set a high and low percentage for where the fund balance should be.

Under the Water & Sewer Fund, Starnes reported unrestricted net assets at $493,087, net assets at $11.2 million, cash flow from operations at just over $1 million and debt service at $1.3 million.

Starnes said the goal for the fund was for cash flow to meet debt service.

County Manager Wayne Jenkins said the fund is expected to meet the debt service this year.

On the other hand, the Solid Waste fund revenue sits at $1.9 million and expenses at just over $2 million, marking a difference of $127,204.

Starnes’s overall message to the commissioners was that county finances were holding ground and that good, fiscal managing was the order of the day.

“It’s not a time to batten down the hatches and go to the bomb shelter, but it’s a time to make good, take-it-easy decisions,” said Starnes.

Jenkins questioned if it would be safe for the county to move forward with its planned Phase V water expansion project.

Starnes said the county could, but it would be tough as not many banks are issuing debt to government entities in light of the current economic situation.

In a later discussion, Commission Chair Robert Carter referenced the auditor’s report on the dispensed E911 funds and asked Jenkins along with Finance Officer Dot Vick to see how the TrueTech contract and other issues could be carried out.

Jenkins said there were several funding requests left over from their previous budgeting season.

Commissioner Virginia Spruill asked Jenkins to only work on funding for the schools and TrueTech, a pest removal company that will eradicate bat problem from the attic of the courthouse.