‘Good clean opinion’ says auditor

Last updated: December 19. 2013 11:43AM - 583 Views
Wil Petty Staff Writer jpetty@civitasmedia.com

Priscilla Norris presents the findings of the county audit to the Ashe County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Dec. 16.
Priscilla Norris presents the findings of the county audit to the Ashe County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Dec. 16.
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Ashe County’s finances remain in good shape, according to the results of its annual audit.

Priscilla Norris, a CPA in Jefferson, presented county commissioners with the county’s Fiscal Year 2012/13 audit Monday afternoon.

“You do have an unqualified opinion again this year, which is a good clean opinion,” Norris said.

The audit covered the year from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013.

“Your fund balance available for appropriation has stayed relatively steady between $9 and 11 million,” she said.

According to the audit, no material weaknesses were identified in the county’s financial statements, federal awards or state awards

“In our opinion, Ashe County complied, in all material respects with the types of compliance requirements… that could have a direct and material effect on each of its major federal programs for the year ended June 30, 2013,” the audit read.

The findings

According to a report dated Nov. 21, Norris submitted five observations:

1.) Ashe County’s overall tax collection rate slightly decreased from 94.10 percent to 93.94 percent.

2.) No instances of over-budgeted expenditures were found for the fiscal year.

“That means that the commissioners did not go over the budget,” Norris said in a Dec. 18 interview.

3.) The county’s general fund balance saw an increase of $383,319 compared to an increase of $324,590 during the 2011/12 FY. Overall government funds saw a decrease of $121,385.

4.) The county’s environmental services fund saw a decrease of $420,834 compared to a decrease of $353,384 in the 2011/12 FY.

5.) Their audit of the county’s Medicaid program found five minor errors out of 61 files tested. None of the errors resulted in a questioned cost.

Norris said the errors were related to eligibility.

Balances, appropriations and costs

According to the audit, Ashe County has a general fund balance of $13,123,482 which is an increase of the 2010/11 and 2011/12 fiscal years. The county has a remaining balance of $7,131,899 with an appropriated fund balance of $3,594,559 for the 2014 budget.

Appalachian Regional Library (covering Ashe, Watauga and Wilkes counties) was appropriated $408,480 to supplement its activities, and the Appalachian District Health Department (covering Ashe, Alleghany and Watauga counties) was appropriated $397,559 to supplement its activities.

The county appropriated $185,160 to the Smoky Mountain Center and $324,306 to Wilkes Community College.

The county paid $13,573 to the High Country Council of Governments. The county provided 13 percent of the total support to the COG and was the third highest in the region behind Watauga and Wilkes counties.

The federal government paid a total of $31,436,683 to county recipients in the fiscal year, while the state paid $14,142,195. Medicaid was the largest factor in both the state and federal, with the federal government providing $24,108,065 to Ashe County recipients and the state giving $13,645,800.

“This is money that doesn’t go through the county finances, this is money issued directly by the state,” Norris said.

Ashe County was awarded $29,158,421 by the federal government and $16,754,029 by the state. Local expenditures totaled $3,032,077.

Norris said benefits such as food stamps are not included in the expenditure award report, but other programs including Medicaid are.

“On the federal awards and the state awards, there were no material weaknesses identified,” Norris said.

Comments by the commissioners

Overall, the Board of Commissioners were pleased with the findings of the audit.

“It’s a very good report,” Commissioner William Sands said. “I am very proud of our employees and what they have done. It’s amazing.”

Commissioner Larry Rhodes also thanked Norris and the county employees for all the work they did relating to the audit.

“As far as where our fund balance is and what money we have used, and the services we are still providing, that’s the main thing,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. The cost to provide services, we’ve been able to do it and we’re still looking at (maintaining) 36.7 percent of our fund balance while the state asks us to keep at least eight (percent).”

Rhodes said the workers did a good job providing services while staying in their price ranges.

“Every department in here gave back at the end of the year,” he said. “It meant they had money there, they spent and provided the services, but they were also conscientious that this is all of our county money.”

Yearick said the audit will be available online as soon as next week.

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