Northampton receives FY23 audit report

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2024

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JACKSON – After years of trying to play catch-up on delayed fiscal audits, Northampton County is finally up-to-date.

“Today is a great day for Northampton County,” said Commissioner Board Chair Charles Tyner during a special called meeting via Zoom on March 11.

During that meeting, the commissioners listened to an audit presentation for the fiscal year which began July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 (FY23). Alan Thompson, representing the audit firm who completed the work, presented the information to the board.

Thompson noted that the county received an unmodified opinion, which means that the financial statements are in order. He also stated that they had no difficulties in performing the audit, no uncorrected misstatements, and no disagreements with management.

“They did an awesome job, and we appreciate it,” he said of working with county staff.

Thompson did state that there were repeat findings for some things the county needed to fix, which was anticipated from the previous audit due to the time frame needed to make the changes. Those included bank reconciliations not performed in a timely manner, old accounts not being closed, and similar issues.

According to the audit, Northampton’s total Fund Balance in the General Fund for FY23 was $28.5 million, an increase of almost two million dollars from the prior year.

“Probably for the last eight years, the Fund Balance has been going up steadily. So kudos to everybody involved,” Thompson said.

He reported that the unassigned Fund Balance (General Fund) was $23.3 million.

Thompson continued, explaining that the county’s total General Fund revenues were $38.7 million while expenditures were at $35.8 million.

As with previous years, the county’s largest source of revenue came from ad valorem taxes. Thompson stated that the tax collection percentage was 96.58 percent. The county’s largest expenditures were in Human Services, Public Safety, General Government, and Education – the same departments which had the largest expenditures in previous years as well.

Thompson reported that the county’s debt was $18.1 million, and also noted that figure had been $23.6 million in 2019, continuing a downward trend of decreasing debt.

“I’m incredibly excited that you are caught up. It speaks to all of you and your diligence to do it,” Thompson emphasized. “I think you’re on the right track.”

Following the presentation, the board of commissioners asked a few questions and made a few comments on the audit report.

Commissioner Ed Martin asked what number would be considered a good percentage of Fund Balance to have.

“It’s not a cookie-cutter answer,” Thompson replied.

He explained that the minimum recommendation across the state used to be 8.33 percent, but the number should be different depending on each county’s size and circumstances. But generally, he would recommend at least 25 percent as a minimum.

Commissioner Geneva Faulkner noted that the previous audit delays had limited what the county was able to do while they worked to catch up, so she was thankful to receive the updated information.

“This positions our county to be able to make decisions that are grounded in facts and solid figures,” she said.

Tyner acknowledged the hard work it took to get the audit completed, and said it would be useful as they begin soon on putting together next year’s budget.

The commissioners did not vote during the special called meeting to accept the audit report, but they are expected to do so during their next regular meeting to be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 1.