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Watauga Commissioners Review Audit For FY-2013, County’s Debt Decreases By $5.8M, See Other ‘Highlights’

By Jesse Wood

Dec. 3, 2013. On Tuesday morning, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners heard a brief presentation of the county’s audit for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2013, from Kathy Mitchell of the CPA firm Bryce Holder. 

While the commissioners listened more than they spoke during the audit presentation, Brown mentioned that the county was in “pretty good shape” – as it could pay for four months of expenditures without any revenue. She also commended Finance Director Margaret Pierce for her hard work in helping the accounting firm finish the audit in a timely manner. 

From a memo to the commissioners, the highlights of the audit are listed below: 

  • The total assets of the County exceeded its liabilities at the close of the fiscal year by $118,828,983, an increase of $4,669,912. The change was primarily due to an increase in revenues and a reduction in expenditures over last year.
  • The County’s unassigned fund balance for the general fund was $14,653,916 at the end of the year, representing 31.73 percent of total General Fund expenditures. This is an increase of $1,170,236 in unassigned fund balance from the previous year.
  • The savings from the prior year’s refinance of the two high school loans allowed for an additional principle amount of $329,113 to be paid, thus reducing the County’s outstanding debt. Expenditure savings came from continued conservative budgeting, limited capital purchases and delayed rehiring for positions which became open during the fiscal year.
  • The collection rate for property taxes remained steady at 97.71 percent which was an increase from last year’s 97.21 percent. We are still well above the statewide average of 96.96 percent in 2011.
  • Outstanding debt principal decreased by $5,866,473. Total outstanding debt principal at June 30, 2013 is $57,739,080. Watauga County’s legal debt limit is $708,347,606 so 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 rating of AA- and Aa3 from Standard and Poor and Moody’s Investor Services, respectively.

To view the entire audit, click here