Audit shows Warren County had strong year

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL– Warren County finished out the last fiscal year on a strong note, according to the latest audit.

Matthew McLearen, of Robinson, Farmer Cox Associates, presented the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal 2013 to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The county is required to have a financial audit performed each year.

County Administrator Douglas Stanley pointed out that the county collected $62.29 million in fiscal 2013 — $3.55 million more than projected.

Supervisor Richard Traczyk asked McLearen to summarize the financial condition of the county in simple terms.

“Warren County had a great fiscal year,” McLearen said. “In 2013, general fund, the main operating fund increased substantially. Tax collection remained strong.”

McLearen explained that the county’s ratio of debt to the assessed value of property remains low. The county is not required to maintain a certain ratio, McLearen said.

Many local governments commonly keep reserve funds equal to at least 15 percent of their budgets for operations and the school system, McLearen said. Warren County’s reserves in fiscal 2013 equaled more than 19 percent of the budgets.

“Certainly every situation’s different but 19.4 percent exceeds that amount and the general fund had an increase of about $3.3 million, which is a very healthy increase,” McLearen said.

McLearen explained that the $17 million in the fund balance, or reserves, reflects only 19.4 percent of the two operating budgets and not spending committed to other special projects.

Supervisor Tony Carter warned that the county could quickly use its reserves, noting that while it looks healthy, “it could go away very fast with some of the stuff we’ve had.”

The board accepted the audit as presented. Carter also suggested that, in the future, the board receive copies of the report a week or two ahead of the presentation to give members time to read and understand the information.

Other information in the audit:

  • Financial highlights noted in the audit show that the county assets and “deferred outflows of resources” exceeded its liabilities and “deferred inflows” by $81.03 million, an amount referred to as the jurisdiction’s “net position.” The total represents an increase over fiscal 2012 by $4.36 million.
  • Real estate and personal property taxes collected by the county in fiscal 2013 exceeded the budgeted amount by $167,041 and $612,426, respectively.
  • Sales tax revenue exceeded the budgeted amount by $2.85 million, mainly as a result of the construction of the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail and the Dominion power plant.
  • The county collected $22,037 less than budgeted from building permit fees because of the faltering housing market. But revenue from permits was still $57,173 higher than in fiscal 2012.
  • Revenue from business licenses also came in over budget by $328,778, mainly as a result of the jail and power plant projects.
  • Revenue from recordation tax came in over budget by $79,111 and $149,699 that collected in fiscal 2012.

Also during fiscal 2013, the county paid down its long-term debt by $4.79 million.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com