Warren County in good financial shape, audit says

Warren County finished the 2014 fiscal year with savings and debt payment, according to the latest audit report released by Robinson, Farmer Cox Associates.

As previously reported in the Northern Virginia Daily, the Warren County Board of Supervisors accepted the county’s audit for fiscal 2014 at its Jan. 20 meeting.

Doug Stanley, Warren County administrator, said he was very satisfied with how the county performed during the fiscal year.

“I think the audit reflects the county’s continued financial stability,” Stanley said. “The county has been able to continue to keep the community moving forward with much needed capital improvement projects such as the RSW Jail and the proposed Leach Run Parkway.”

The audit found the county began the year with a total “fund balance.” The county’s savings that carried over year to year in its general, special projects, school bond construction and miscellaneous funds was about $40.41 million and ended the year with about $42.22 million, increasing the fund balance by $1.8 million.

During 2014, the county collected $66.1 million in revenue, $37.99 million of which came from property taxes, $12.374 million came from the commonwealth and $7.53 million came from other local taxes.

The county spent $74.463 million, of which $20.03 million went to education, $13.36 million went toward public safety and $10.98 million went toward paying the principal on the county’s debt.

The county also financed the year through bond refinancing and transferring money in and out of various accounts, amounting to $10.15 million in resources.

When revenue, fund balance and other financing sources are added up, it amounts to $116.69 million in total resources.

The county’s general fund, which includes education, public safety, public works, capital projects, health and human services and administration, began the year with $17.132 million in its coffers. There was $64.27 million in revenue collected and $6.32 million was raised in bond refinancing and transfers.

The general fund spent $71.039 million, ending the 2014 fiscal year with $16.69 million in its fund balance, a $439,621 decrease in its “savings account.”

Stanley said the decrease in the fund balance was not as much as was originally thought.

“We planned when we started the year that we’d have to spend some $800,000 in our reserves on capital items, so in essence we finished the year about $400,000 better than we thought we would,” Stanley said.

Dipping into the fund balance is strictly for major capital purchases, such as emergency vehicles, Stanley said.

“Think about your own personal budget,” Stanley said. “You need to pay your essentials, but if you have a windfall of $2,500, you might go out and buy a hot tub. That hot tub is a one-time purchase. But if you need that $2,500 to make your rent, then you need to make it up the next year or you’ll still be short $2,500.”

It is Warren County policy to keep the fund balance, also known as the county’s reserves, in at least 15 percent of the year’s budget, Stanley said.

The audit itself went off without a hitch, Matthew McLearen of Robinson, Farmer, Cox said at the Jan. 20 meeting. Stanley said the finance staff played a big part in ensuring the audit’s success.

“I want to express my thanks to Carolyn Stimmel, Warren County finance director and her staff for their efforts in working with our auditor to complete the annual audit,” Stanley said.

Other findings in the report included:

  • The county’s “net position” amounted to $84.98 million, a $4.37 million increase over the 2013 net position. The auditors said the county’s equity, or assets, define the net position after subtracting its debt.
  • The county decreased its long-term debt by $2.4 million during the year by paying regular principal payments.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com