County’s finances have improved from past years, audit shows

By Taylor Boyd

The audit for the fiscal year 2020 showed revenues exceeded expenses by $2,214,762, according to a report at the Dec. 14 Board of Supervisors meeting.

“That was an improvement because in fiscal year 2019, our expenditures exceeded the revenues by $3 million. That’s a big difference,” according to Donna Shough, Human Resources Director and Finance Director.

Scott Wickham, of Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates accounting firm, said the county had an unmodified good, clean opinion regarding the financial statement.

That means we feel that the numbers within the report are materially accurate,” Wickham said.

According to his report, the county has an unrestricted network of $2.7 million, and a total net worth of $12.6 million.

“Most of that is invested in capital assets, such as the Patrick County Administration building, various vehicles, the jail, and things like that,” Wickham said.

The county also has about $6.4 million in unassigned fund balance, he added.

The in-house statement on the short term modified accrual basis accounting showed a general increase of $2.1 million.

This comes as a result of the tax increase from prior years and as well as delaying debt as part refunding,” Wickham said.

The report recommended the county implement a plan to operate on a balanced budget, as the county currently continues to operate on an unbalanced budget. The general fund of used reserved, or fund balance, was $915,000.

The various carryovers and the additional supplements used,” created a total balance of $1.2 million used, he said, adding the balance was a still a significant amountdespite being less than it had been previously.

The county’s unassigned fund balance for percentage of calculation of operating reserve rose to 13.9 percent for the fiscal year of 2020. This is an increase from the 2019 fiscal year operating reserve of 9.7 percent.

“It’s up a little big this year, but the GFOA (Government Finance Officers Association) has a national recommendation of a minimum of 16.67 percent and that’s their national minimum,” he said. However, he noted the recommended minimum includes a caveat because “it does not take into fact local economies.”

The county’s tax assessment over a 10-year trend showed that “they’re pretty flat.” Wickham said.They actually declined a little over 10 years.”

In other matters, the board:

*Discussed proposals taken up by the cares commCARES Committee.

County Administrator Geri Hazelwood said the CARES Committee approved three of the requested seven Scott SCBA (safety) projects, and later received a letter from Emergency Services Coordinator Director Steve Allen.

In the letter, Allen said “after reviewing our Scott SCBA gear, I have found that eight air packs are approaching 20 years of age. The bottles assigned to each of these packs are no longer serviceable per NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standard. Due to the age of these packs, it is recommended that we replace both pieces of equipment at the same time to ensure firefighter safety on the fire ground. Additionally, all our spare air bottles will reach the 20year service life date within the next 24 months.

“The Standard Operating Procedure for fire ground operations is 2 in/2 out. All of our trucks should have 2 air packs on them, so the crew is able to operate safely on the fire ground with equipment that we know is serviced regularly and meets safety standards.”

Hazelwood said Allen was asking for the board “to reconsider five, and reinstate eight air packs instead of three,” and added the cost would be about $73,000.

“If we don’t do it now, it’ll have to come out” of county money, Crystal Harris, vice chairman and of the Smith River District, said.

Clyde DeLoach, of the Blue Ridge District, said the board “might as well use the money we’ve got.”

Shough said the board received a request from the Sheriff’s Office for “portable radios for the jail, the road investigators, security, courtroom and civil process.” She said the CARES Committee denied the request but was willing to reconsider if more information became available.

Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith, said the department requested 80 portable radios, but he was “asking for whatever you’ll give us.”

Smith said the department’s “newest radios are probably 12 years old,” and their current radios are used by law enforcement personnel, troopers in the county, the game warden, and spares.

“The radio I have from the rescue squad is 20 years. It works wonderful,” Jane Fulk, chairman and of the Dan River District, said, adding she understands the department’s radios “probably get beaten up a little bit more than mine do.”

Harris said she understands the departments needs new radios and was “willing to negotiate with half” the requested amount.

“A beggar can’t be a chooser,” Smith said, adding his radio is probably 17 years old. We’ll take whatever we can get. We just have no plan financially to replace them in the future.

“Other than missing a knob it still transmits and I can still receive from it. A lot of the ones do not. A couple of the ones the troopers have don’t work very good,” Smith said, and added one trooper can hear radio traffic, but is unable to transmit.

Based on the quote to the committee, the cost of 40 radios would be about $55,000 Shough said.

Smith said the department would “probably not” have time to get quotes on the cost of the radios. “That’s why we don’t have them,” he said.

The board agreed to use CARES funds to give the department 45 portable radios.

*Agreed to use EMI Imaging (Eastern Microfilm Sales & Service Inc.) to purchase security cameras for the Patrick County Administration building. The estimated quote for the project was $5,872.64, and CARES funds will be used for the project.

Harris said “it’s a must here at the county to have security. When you find doors unlocked two weekends in a row and they’re supposed to be on the master keys, it’s kind of scary.”

*Hazelwood said as of Monday, Dec. 14 there were 98 active COVID-19 cases in the county.

*Scheduled a public hearing for Monday, Jan. 11, 2021 to amend the budget for fiscal year 2021 due to an increase in the Patrick County School Board budget amount.

*Approved the Real Estate Board of Equalization Deadline ordinance, the one percent sales tax ordinance, and the Courthouse Security Fee ordinance.

*Appointed Wayne Clark, of the Mayo River District, Darrell Cockerham, of the Dan River District, and Sam Harrod, of the Smith River District, to the Board of Equalization.

*Appointed Fulk and DeLoach to the Insurance Committee.

*Allocated $14,000 of previously budgeted funds to buy the inventory of the Old True Value Store, which the EDA purchased.

*Approved a one-year lease on the former Lemon’s Jewelry store on Main Street to locate a Patrick County Visitor’s Center.

Denise Stirewalt, of the Peters Creek District, did not attend the meeting.


more recommended stories