02/05/04 — County gets audit

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County gets audit

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on February 5, 2004 2:02 PM

Strict budgeting has allowed Wayne County to halt a trend of cutting into its savings, officials say.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners received copies of the annual audit. Nunn Brashear & Co. examined the county's financial picture for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2003.

The auditors will come to the commissioners' meeting Feb. 17 for a full report, but the early look at the numbers was promising.

For the first time in years, the county increased its unreserved fund balance, which is its savings that are not set aside for any particular purpose. As of last July, the county had $18,290,000 in this fund balance. That was up around $20,000 from the previous year.

"That's not a whole lot of money," County Manager Lee Smith said.

But he added that any increase was an accomplishment, considering that the 2002-03 budget had borrowed $4 million out of the fund balance. Department heads had to keep close tabs on expenses and save money where they could to be able to return that much to the account by year's end, Smith said.

The county has just over $12 million in the fund balance of its general fund, which is most county services that aren't expected to pay for themselves. That equals about 11 percent of the annual cost of the general fund budget.

The state requires local governments to have at least 8 percent of their general fund in reserve, just in case of emergencies. Even though the county is above the minimum, Smith isn't satisfied, he said. "We're still not where we need to be."

The audit did not find any major problems in the county's financial picture.

Other business

Also Tuesday, the commissioners awarded a $146,437 contract to H.B. West Inc. of Smithfield for the entrance road and water and sewer lines for Myrtle Place Apartments, a complex that is being built by a private developer off U.S. 117, south of Goldsboro.

The money for the infrastructure is from a state fund to assist in the construction of affordable housing. The developer will be repaying the loan to the county over several years.

The board also gave a $35,200 contract to Hydrostructures PA of Pittsboro to study the county's sewer lines south of Goldsboro, known as the Genoa system, for groundwater infiltration. The county received a $40,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Center to pay for the work.

The board agreed to ask the N.C. Department of Transportation to assume maintenance of five roads: Edgebrook Drive, Halston Drive, Amy Court, Sutton's Run and Clay Road.

The commissioners met in a 20-minute closed session to discuss the possible location of a new industry.