County audit reveals 2015 budget deficit of $549,000
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Grady County auditor Tom Carmichael finally presented the Grady County Commission the 2015 audited financial statements Tuesday, but how long the auditor remains on the job is a question.
Following Carmichael’s presentation to the board Tuesday, Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar said late Tuesday afternoon that he will be recommending that the county solicit proposals for auditing services this year.
Tobar could not say exactly how long Carmichael had served as the county’s auditor, but he said this week it had been at least since 2011.
Grady County Commission Chairman Charles Norton asked Carmichael if the county could get the audit earlier next year and the auditor indicated he could.
“You give me a drop dead date and we will commit the resources to make that deadline. Our preference would be to get started in February,” Carmichael said.
The auditor said the draft of the audit was held up because his office had to wait on the county to provide some information needed for the audit. He said he understood that his office’s request for information came at a bad time for county staff.
Tobar admits the auditor did have to wait for his office to respond, but said he had requested the auditor begin work by early March and it was much later before the actual work began.
“We had cleared our calendars to get underway the first of March, but that didn’t happen and when they did come it was in the summer when we had reports due and a lot of projects going on,” Tobar said.
Carmichael’s audit presentation indicates that Grady County ended 2015 with a budget deficit of $549,000. County commissioners, on Tobar’s recommendation, had budgeted for a surplus of $492,000. The 2014 actual surplus was $398,000.
Based on the audit, the county had budgeted for revenue of $12,075,000 but actually only collected $11,371,000.
The audit also shows the county over spent in 2015. The county commissioners had budgeted expenditures of $11,585,000, but by Dec. 31, 2015 had actually spent $11,712,000. Up from $11,187,000 in 2014.
The biggest variance in the budgeted revenue versus actual receipts was in property taxes, according to the auditor. The audit shows the county budgeted to collect $7,609,000 in property taxes, but actual collections were $7,028,000 a difference of $581,000.
Tobar says additional taxes have been collected since the cutoff for the preparation of the audit and said he is confident that nearly all of the budgeted taxes have now been collected. “It will roll into 2016’s audit,” Tobar said.
The audit also shows that the county over spent in general government by $127,000. Carmichael says the bulk of the variance is a result of the county’s increased cost for its self insured health insurance plan. Significant claims in 2015 caused the county to spend more than projected for health insurance costs.
Grady County ended the year with more money in the bank on Dec. 31, 2015 than it had on that same date the year prior. The county had $8,303,000 in cash at the end of the year compared to $7,617,000 in 2014. The county also had $1.5 million in certificates of deposit.
The county ended the year with a decreased fund balance of $10,235,000, down from $10,784,000 in 2014.
Carmichael noted that the fund balance was not a surplus of money that is in the bank consistently. “This is a snapshot of the county’s finances on Dec. 31. That fund has to support the county for the rest of the year until tax collections come in at the end of the year,” the auditor noted.
Carmichael reported that the county’s net pension liability at the end of 2015 stood at $1,111,000, which is the amount the county would have to contribute to its pension fund to fully fund its obligations.
“Nationwide, is that a good percentage?” Tobar asked.
Carmichael said it was and noted that all of the clients he serves have pension liabilities.
Including the pension liability, which now must be recorded in the county’s financial statement, the long-term debt of the county grew from $15,045,000 in 2014 to $25,514,000 in 2015. Also part of that growth is the issuance of $8,795,000 in bonds by the Grady County Lake Authority for the Tired Creek project.