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Audit shows Gates County in good health financially

GATESVILLE – Gates County’s financial health is, in a word, healthy.

That is the opinion of Scott Baily of the CPA firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram when he delivered the county’s 2016-17 audit to the board of commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting here recently.

In his report, Baily said the net position of Gates County local government increased by $1,095,883. The governmental activities net position increased by $1,386,967 while business-type activities decreased by $291,084.

At the close of the 2016-17 fiscal year (which ended on June 30, 2017), the county’s governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of $5,295,291. That figure marked a net increase in fund balances of $817,334.

The audit report showed approximately 30.057% of this total amount, or $1,455,109, is either restricted or committed. Meanwhile, the unassigned fund balance for the General Fund was $3,704,621 or 33.98% of total general fund expenditures for the fiscal year.

The county’s total debt decreased by $841,737 (20.71%) during 2016-17. The key factors in the decrease was debt service principal payments on the county’s outstanding notes payable.

“The county’s net position may serve over time as one useful indicator of a government’s financial condition,” Baily noted in his report. “The county’s assets and deferred outflows of resources exceeded liabilities and deferred

inflows of resources by $13,877,482 as of June 30, 2017. The county’s net position increased by $1,095,883 during fiscal year ended June 30, 2017. One of the largest portions $11,467,108 (82.63%) reflects the county’s net investment in capital assets (e.g. land, buildings, infrastructure, machinery, and equipment).”

He added that the county uses these capital assets to provide services to citizens; consequently, these

assets are not available for future spending.

Baily outlined several key aspects of the county’s financial operations, to include a continued diligence in the collection of property taxes by maintaining an overall collection percentage of approximately 96.6 percent; local option sales tax revenues increased $490,951 over the prior year, primarily due to the new Article 44 sales tax distribution from the State of North Carolina; the county received several grants to fund various improvement projects; and county management’s proactive stance on monitoring spending across county departments to ensure compliance with the budget.

He said the county’s combined fund balance (assisgned and unassigned) of $5.29 million marked an 18.25 percent increase over 2015-16. Unassigned fund balance represents 33.97% to total General Fund expenditures, while total fund balance represents 44.03% of that same amount.

“The primary reason for this increase was the increase in property taxes and sales tax revenues,” Baily noted.

The tax rate increased from $0.64 to $0.68 per $100 of assessed property value. The increase was to offset additional funding request for the county’s Rescue Squad.

In property tax, the audit showed Gates County collected $6.84 million for fiscal year 2016-17. That represents over a half-million-dollar increase over the previous fiscal year ($6.3 million).

The local option sales tax increase from 2015-16 to 2016-17 was also in the half-million-dollar range. In 15-16, the county collected $2,017,450 from that portion of the North Carolina sales tax. That amount rose to $2,508.401 for 2016-17.

As for capital assets, the audit showed Gates County has $12,523,096 invested in land, buildings, construction in progress, machinery, vehicles, and equipment.

Major capital asset transactions during 2016-17 included the purchase of a pumps at the water plant; repairs and improvements to various county buildings; purchase of new vehicles for the sheriff’s office, GITS and the water department; and a mandated backup of the county’s 911 emergency facility.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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