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Gates County adds $1.1 million to fund balance

GATESVILLE – After a couple of down years, it appears that Gates County local government’s finances are making significant gains.

Tim Lyons with Mauldin & Jenkins CPAs presented the county’s 2019-2020 audit to the board of commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting here April 21.

Lyons gave the county an unmodified (“clean”) opinion of the county’s 2020 basic financial statements.

“That’s a good thing; there’s not a better opinion that you can get,” Lyons said. “And it also needs to be noted that the audit was finished and turned in to the LGC [Local Government Commission] before their deadline.”

As of June 30, 2020, Gates County local government had approximately 22 percent of its annual expenditures saved within the unassigned fund balance. This marks a significant increase over the past two fiscal year budgets: 14.1 percent in 2019 and a dismal 8.5 percent in 2018.

“You’re unassigned fund balance is trending in the right direction,” Lyons observed.

The audit showed that General Fund revenues were 2.8 percent more than the amended budgeted amount (property & sales taxes). Expenditures for many functional areas were 6.5 percent less than budgeted.

“The county wound up adding $1.1 million to the General Fund balance,” Lyons stressed.

He briefly discussed the portion of the audit that covers the Enterprise Fund. Lyons said both the Water Fund and Landfill Fund had a positive net position at the end of the year. The Water Fund reported positive cash flows of $522,490 from operations (overall decrease in cash of $168,411). The Landfill Fund reports $81,310 in cash flows from operations and an overall increase in cash of $110,486 for the year.

He added that the audit also covered the inflow and outflow of money the county received from the federal and state governments. Combined, those funds totaled nearly $3 million, which was used for Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, public schools, and the battle against COVID-19.

“There were no internal control issues to report with those funds,” Lyons stated.

“Overall we found no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in county’s financial statements,” he concluded.

Lyons did encourage county leaders to think about ways to address cyber security in an effort to avoid digital breaches.

He praised the cooperation of county officials, particularly Financial Services Director Kim Outland and her team, in his company’s review of the financial records.

“I know I aggravated Kim at times about things I didn’t understand about the audit, but she and her staff did an outstanding job,” said Commission Chair Dr. Althea Riddick. “This was a very impressive report, one that shows us moving in the right direction.”

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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