Taxpayer money not obligated in the fiscal budget year by the County Commissioners is referred to as the "General Fund - Fund Balance."

These funds are unrestricted and unencumbered; so the County Commissioners can spend these funds any way they like as long as it's legal. The Local Government Commission in Raleigh expects a county to maintain a minimum fund balance equal to 8% of the county's expenditures.

The county General Fund - Fund Balance is sometimes referred to as the county savings account. Its purpose is to keep the county from running out of money during periods of slow cash flow and to provide emergency funds above the county budget's contingency line item.

Another use of the General Fund - Fund Balance is when there is not enough projected revenue in the proposed fiscal year budget to cover the county proposed expenses. Then the County Commissioners can balance the county budget with fund balance funds.

The Stanly County Adopted Budget Message, dated June 28th, 2011, states "The County’s undesignated fund balance grew steadily over the course of five (5) fiscal years due to sound fiscal leadership on the part of the Board of Commissioners."

Now, admittedly, the above statement does not specify that the fund balance grew over the past five (5) consecutive fiscal years it just grew over the course of five (5) fiscal years.

So not to argue as to whether or not the statement is misleading, below is the audited Stanly County General Fund - Fund Balance for the past five (5) CONSECUTIVE years. Both the percentage of expenditures and the actual dollar amount is shown so you can judge for yourself the "sound fiscal leadership on the part of the Board of Commissioners."

 *FY 06-07 22.8% or $12.31 million dollars  *FY 07-08 27.9% or $15.52 million dollars  *FY 08-09 16.3% or $ 9.46 million dollars  *FY 09-10 12.1% or $ 6.78 million dollars  *FY 10-11 15.7% or $ 8.53 million dollars

The unaudited General Fund - Fund Balance for this FY 11-12 is projected to be $9.5 million dollars. Whether or not this projected amount increases or decreases will not be known for several months when the auditors complete their work with the county budget.

For County Commissioners that have budgeted $1,020,000 million dollars during the course of their dispute with ALCOA, yet through April 30th, 2012 have spent $4,913,084 million dollars; their ability to project the General Fund - Fund Balance amount for this budget year is certainly questionable.

The Adopted Budget Message of June 28th, 2011 further states "as a result of some prioritized infrastructure (water projects, Airport terminal facility) and legal expenses during FY 2009-2010 and FY 2010-2011, the County’s fund balance has decreased fairly significantly."

Calculations from the Adopted Budget Message show the following General Fund - Fund Balances that have been appropriated:

 *FY 09-10 $1,756,316  *FY 10-11 $   791,718  *FY 11-12 $   350,000 unaudited

In comparing the above General Fund - Fund Balance Appropriations, the June 28th, 2011 Adopted Budget Message further states "The decrease is part of a three (3) year strategy to reduce the dependence on fund balance. The goal for FY 12-13 is to appropriate $0 in fund balance. This appropriated fund balance reduction plan is critical for the long term fiscal stability of the County’s operations."

Something must have changed with this three (3) year strategy because instead of $0 dollars being appropriated from the General Fund - Fund Balance, the Proposed FY12-13 Budget requires an appropriation of $480,046 thousand dollars to meet the proposed county expenses beginning July 1st, 2012 through June 30th, 2013.

All of this bragging about "sound fiscal leadership on th part of the Board of Commissioners" may be just an effort to get by without a tax increase during an election year.

Or, it may be an effort to get by until next year when property revaluation takes place and the County Commissioners can try to hide a tax increase in the FY 13-14 budget.

More proposed budget information will follow...

ON A PERSONAL NOTE, further research on the letter dated February 4th, 1998 to me as Chairman of the County Commissioners (mentioned several notes ago concerning questions being asked about the county audit submission and the county enterprise funds) from the State Treasurer's Office is date stamped February 8th, 1998 by the Stanly County Finance office.

A person or person's identity requesting a public document is just as public as the document itself.

The date stamp indicates this letter was photocopied from the Stanly County Finance office records by someone.

When the County Manager and the County Finance Director were asked who had requested this 1998 letter; the response was to their information and belief their had been no such public records request.

It appears, either there is a security breech in the County Manager's Office, the County Finance Department or the Board of County Commissioners.

The research continues...

DAVID MORGAN

FORMER CHAIRMN, STANLY COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

(You are welcome to share this note. All email blast addresses are kept confidential. If you would like to be added to the email blast please reply to davidmorgan@ctc.net with "add.")

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