Weatherford Democrat

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June 28, 2012

Auditor gives county government clean opinion

PARKER COUNTY — Parker County received a clean opinion Wednesday from auditing firm Snow Garrett & Williams.

Kathy Williams, a partner with the firm, presented the Parker County Annual Financial Report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2011 to the court.

“There are no findings, questioned costs or deficiencies, and all financial statements are reported fairly,” she said. “There are no surprises, especially as we’re talking about your transportation bond.”

In a management letter that accompanied the audit, the auditor noted that the county did not meet the minimum fund balance goal set in its fund balance policy.

The goal is to achieve and maintain an unassigned balance equal to 25 to 50 percent of budgeted expenditures for unanticipated needs, the letter stated. At the end of 2011, however, the county had an unassigned balance of 6 percent of budgeted expenditures, but it was up from 4 percent the previous year.

Auditors also recommended that the county use more detailed accounting procedures to track federal and state grants, implement policies to report financial statements to reflect changes in governmental accounting and auditing requirements and establish a debt management policy.

They applauded the county for improving internal controls over disbursements, adopting a fund balance policy and monitoring and amending its budget through the year.

“We can always be better, but we can certainly be worse,” Judge Mark Riley commented.  

Audit highlights presented at the meeting follow:

• Capital assets for FY 2010-11 increased almost 21 percent — from $62.4 million to $75.4 million — due mainly to infrastructure and land related to the transportation bond projects.

• Total debt decreased more than $2.7 million — to $82.7 million due to regular bond payments and the fact that no new debt was issued.

• A balance sheet for all the county’s governmental funds showed total assets — not including capital assets — at $40.5 million, most of that in cash and investments, and total (current) liabilities at $6 million.

• The total fund balance is $34.5 million, with most of it — $24.2 million — in the capital projects fund.

• A statement of revenues, expenditures and changes in fund balance for all governmental funds — General Fund, Lateral Road Fund, Debt Service Fund and Others — shows total revenues of $57.3 million — most in the general fund related to property tax, sales tax, intergovernmental revenue and fees of office — and total expenditures of $75 million, with some $19.5 million for capital outlay, mainly due to transportation bond projects.

• Other significant expenditures were $14.5 million for law enforcement, $10.5 million for judicial and more than $10 million for highways, roads and streets.

Williams said the revenue deficiency of about $17.3 million — with about $75 million in expenditures exceeding about $57 million in revenues — was mainly due to county transportation projects.

“That bond money came in several years ago, and as you spend that down, you’re going to see significant decreases in that fund,” she said. “So if you look at a total for the county, it’s skewed by that number, the transportation bond fund.”

• The general fund balance increased by $547,000, to $1.9 million this year, enough to fund 20 days of general fund expenditures. “You’re not where you wanted to be for target purposes,” Williams said, “but you are improving that fund balance, and that’s good to see.”

The total revenue for the Lateral Road Fund is $11 million, compared without $12.6 million in expenditures, resulting in a deficiency of about $1 million.

“The one thing I will say is that you had budgeted to have a decrease in fund balance of over $2.8 million,” Williams said, “but you only had a decrease of $1.6 million. You still were quite a bit less than you anticipated.”

Figures show a fund balance of $3.4 million for all four precincts in the Lateral Road Fund and the Road and Bridge Fund. The fund balance is less than the $4.5 million for the previous year.

Precinct 1’s balance is shown as $898,000, Precinct 2’s as $569,000, Precinct 3’s as $844,000 and Precinct 4’s as $925,000. The Road & Bridge Fund is $181,000.

County auditor Mike Rhoten thanked Williams, saying the company’s work helps the county maintain its bond ratings.

“I think it’s one of the most complicated audits we’ve ever had,” he said. “Somebody might say it’s a little nitpicky, but it has safeguards. It’s good for the county.”

Voting to accept the audit were Riley and commissioners George Conley, Craig Peacock and Dusty Renfro. Commissioner John Roth was absent.

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