By Steve Peterson
Jeff Peters of Williams & Co. presented the 2012-2013 annual financial report to Plymouth County supervisors at the supervisors’ regular meeting Feb. 25.
“We gave the county an unmodified opinion — that is what you’re after,” said Peters.
The county has about $781 million in assets and property, of which $58 million are roads and bridges, he said. The cost of providing services to the taxpayer was $9.5 million; The General Fund had an ending balance of $1,850,000, which was up $270,000 over FY 2012. The county has 100 days of funds in reserve.
“That is a good, positive fund balance. In one state if a county has too much of a fund balance, it has to be turned back to the state,” said Peters.
“There were some journal entries (needing correction), meaning the county had a (material) weakness, but that is just about an unattainable standard. Only one or two audits out of 100 we do does not have that,” said Peters.
“In our opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position of the governmental activities, each major fund, and the aggregate remaining fund information of Plymouth County, as of June 30, 2013, and the respective changes in financial position or the year ended in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting practices,” stated Peters’ firm in the audit.
The 2013 Plymouth County financial highlights included the following:
• County assets exceeded its liabilities at the end of FY2013 by $59,743,291.
• Plymouth County’s FY2013 total net position increased by $2,397,162 from FY 2012.
Current total assets of net position included $10,264,802 in long-term debt; and $11,067,301 in unavailable revenue for future property tax.
Governmental activities increased the county’s net position by $2,378,162. Debt included the 2005 General Obligation Bond, $7.8 million, a grant awarded to Le Mars Business Initiative Corp. for the Wells Corporate Campus. General revenues were down from FY 2012’s $25,539,645 to $22,135,622.
• At the end of FY 2013, Plymouth County governmental funds reported a combined ending fund balance of $5,941,520, which is 29 percent of the total of the governmental funds expenses.
• The unassigned General Fund balancedincreased $382,939 from FY 2012 to FY 2013, which is a 31 percent increase.
At the end of FY 2013, the unassigned fund balance for the General Fund was $1,602,405, which is 24 percent of the total of the General Fund expenditures.
• Plymouth County types of funds are governmental, which account for the most of the county’s basic services. These balances left at year-end are available for spending.
The county has 13 governmental funds, including the General Fund and Special Revenue Funds such as Mental Health, Rural Services, Secondary Roads, Local Option Sales Tax, Joint Urban Renewal and Ethanol Urban Renewal.
Also, there are Fiduciary Funds which are used to report assets held in a trust or agency capacity for others and cannot be used to support the government’s own programs. These include Emergency Management Services, County Assessor and the Emergency 911.
• Program expenses were down from $19,652,117 in FY 2012 to $19,487,709 with leaders being Roads and Transportation, $9,203,944; administration, $3,749,871; and public safety, $3,244,176.
• An issuance of General Obligation Crossover refunding bonds in FY 2012 for the 2005 issue meant a total decrease of $6,996,731 for its combined fund balance.
The budget was amended by the supervisors on June 4, 2013, for the following purposes: increased costs due to the Conservation Department expenses including the track loader with forestry mulcher; the Merrill Fifth Street project in the Plymouth County Ethanol Urban Renewal Area, Sheriff’s Office fuel costs; an additional part-time deputy Sheriff; pass-through EMS grants, Attorney Office remodel project; Sheriff equipment and evidence building expenses; Veteran Affairs salary expense; new voting equipment; TIF revenue to the City of Le Mars; Board of Supervisors’ meeting expenses; pass through grant for Akron Boat Ramp; and the Wells bond payment adjustment due to refinancing of the 2005 bond.
The audit recommends that more amendments of the budget be made prior to disbursements.
The county’s total cash basis for FY 2013 was $22,294,644 with $25,775,624 as projected revenues; a difference and 14 percent decrease of $3,480,980.
Plymouth County had $62.54 million invested in capital assets, net of accumulated depreciation. Land was at $2,396,195 in FY 2013; buildings and improvements, $7,458,898; equipment, $3,787,605; and infrastructure, $46,951,290.
Plymouth County’s levy rate in the General Basic Supplemental Fund was decreased to 0.14908 in FY 2014 from 0.22074 in FY 2013. This levy creates $200,000 which will be used to purchase the county’s liability insurance.
A 10-year history of the revenue and expenditures of the county was included. In 2004, the revenue was $13,553.644 and expenditures totaled $14,792.427. Public safety grew from $2,026.630 in 2004 to $3,223,465 in FY 2013; physical health and social services grew from $314,657 to $382,695; roads and transportation, $4,877,358 to $6,482,247. Total expenses went from $14.8 million to $20.7 million.