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Commissioners Presented With Watauga County Audit for 2014: ‘County’s Financial Position Remains Strong’

By Jesse Wood

Dec. 17, 2014. Kathy Mitchell of the CPA firm Bryce Holder presented the Watauga County Board of Commissioners with the 2014 fiscal-year county audit on Tuesday evening.

In a memo to commissioners, County Manager Deron Geouque said, “The county’s financial position remains strong due to the direction provided by the Commissioners and through execution of that direction by County staff.”

Among the highlights of the audit that Mitchell presented to the board include:

  • The total assets of the county exceeded its liabilities at the close of the fiscal year by $120,541,910, an increase of $1,712,927. The change was primarily due to an increase in miscellaneous revenues and a reduction in expenditures over last year.
  • The county’s unassigned fund balance for the general fund was $16,748,511 at the end of the year, representing 37.17 percent of total general fund expenditures. This is an increase of $2,094,595 in the unassigned fund balance from the previous year.
  • The collection rate for property taxes was 98.02 percent which was an increase from last year’s 97.85 percent. The county is still above the statewide average of 96.41 percent in 2013.
  • Outstanding debt principal decreased by $5,463,318. Total outstanding debt principal at June 30, 2014, is $51,120,762. Watauga County’s legal debt limit, as required by the state, is $673,016,633. The County is well below the state limits.
  • No material weaknesses were found in our accounting systems or internal controls. The county maintained its bond ratings of Aa3 from Moody’s Investor Services and AA-from Standard and Poor. Mitchell classified the bond rating as “very good.”

The audit was for information only, and the commissioners didn’t vote on the audit. After reviewing the audit, Geouque recommended that the board transfer the $2,094,595 increase in the unassigned fund balance to the capital project fund.

Geouque said that this transfer would allow for partial replenishment of the capital project fund, which has been “pretty much depleted in the past six or seven years.”

Before the unanimous vote, Commissioner Billy Kennedy said, “Now’s the time to start building that back up for county projects.”

Review the county audit here.