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Audit reveals revenue, fund balance gains

WINTON – Hertford County’s financial picture is good – at least as of June 30, 2008.

On Monday, Jim P. Winston II of Winston, Williams, Creech, Evans and Company presented the fiscal year 2007-08 audit to the Hertford County Board of Commissioners. He informed them the audit report reflected an unqualified opinion, the best available in North Carolina.

“The county had a really good year against the budget,” Winston said. “The only thing I will say is to keep your eye on the ball. The revenue side is going to be tough to keep at a high rate in the current economic times.”

According to the audit report, revenues increased slightly over the previous fiscal year. In the 2006-07 audit, revenues were at $25,889, 570 while they improved to $25,936,012 last year.

Expenditures also crept up for Hertford County as they rose just under $100,000 for the year.

The audit also showed a slight increase in the fund balance from $8.69 million to $9.19 million. That slight increase allowed the county to move the unreserved fund balance to 24.48 percent, just slightly below the state average of 25.03 percent.

While complimenting the commissioners on the fund balance, Winston also cautioned them about spending any of the money in the fund.

“Be careful as you consider spending into your fund balance because it will be difficult to build it back up and it could take a while in the present economy,” he said.

Commissioner DuPont L. Davis asked about expenditures and where money would come from.

“Costs are not going down,” Davis said. “Where will we get the money from?”

Winston said he knew the commissioners were in a tight spot and that they could use the fund balance, but he cautioned them to do so only as a last resort.

The report showed the commissioners were cautious a year ago as they budgeted $746,496 to be taken from fund balance, but actually increased it slightly and did not use any of the funds.

The tax levy in Hertford County also rose slightly – from $10.62 million to $10.87 million.

Hertford County Manager Loria D. Williams said that slight increase was due to growth and not an increase in taxes.

“It is indicative of growth, because there was not changes in tax rates,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, as you can tell, the growth was very slight.”

The tax collection rate in Hertford County dropped slightly last year. In 2006-07 the county collected 96.13 percent of taxes while collecting 95.76 last year.

Despite the drop, Winston said the tax collection rate was still higher than most counties in the state and said it was a good number.

Davis asked if Winston had any recommendations for the board and he said there was only one slight recommendation and it has been shared with the finance department. It involved the reconciliation of a worksheet by the Hertford County Department of Social Services.

As he closed, Winston did again remind the board to be cautious of the current budget year due to the economic situation and advised them to be mindful of the state of the economy as they planned the 2009-10 budget.

After the presentation, Commission Chairman Howard J. Hunter III commended Williams, Finance Officer Robin Stephenson and Tax Collector Wilda Liverman for a job well done.