2020 audit reveals revenue up, expenses down in Union

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2020 audit clay pilgrim

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County received a clean/unmodified opinion concerning its 2020 audit from Rushton and Company, a CPA firm.

Clay Pilgrim, CPA, CPE, CCF, delivered the information during the July County Commission meeting.

“I do have great news, this is real riveting information this audit, so I’m glad you joined us,” Pilgrim told the large crowd. He also thanked all county officials for their help.

The 2020 fiscal budget was amended down from $17,999,955 to $17,468,052 during the meeting as well.

The net position/ county equity covers three areas, net investments and capital assets, restricted net position, and unrestricted net position.  The total net position for the county in 2020 was $57,418,192.

  • Capital assets and net investments – $47,643,505 – examples: buildings, equipment
  • Restricted net position – $5,456,656 – example: SPLOST
  • Unrestricted net positions – $4,318,031 – example: residual

“For the year, there was an increase in net position, revenues exceeded expenses by $5,505,303. The largest reason for that increase was some operating grants and contributions that were received and sales tax increases as well with a lower expense increase overall,” Pilgrim stated.

In Union County’s General Fund also known as the operating budget, revenues increased 21 percent ($3,708,099) in 2020. Here’s the following breakdown of revenue increases:

2020 audit revenues by source. Sales Tax was the largest at 35 percent and property tax came in second at 32 percent.

  • Property taxes – $181,943
  • Title ad valorem – $543,158
  • Intangible taxes – $174,580
  • Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) – $922,524
  • Intergovernmental revenues – $1,358,375

“[LOST increase] is a trend we’re seeing across the mountain areas of the state with sales tax. Folks moving this way or spending time up in the mountains with the pandemic that took place last year,” Pilgrim added.

The property tax line includes the last seven years of digest, any collections paid in 2020, and assessments.

Expenses for the county also increased by 4.7 percent ($777,040). The breakdown is as follows.

  • General administration – $944,789 – the cost included capital outlay projects and the county reappraisal.
  • Sheriff’s office – $297,845 – personal services

One area of expenditures decreased and that was highways and streets which were under by $583,708 also for personal services.

The unassigned fund balance or general fund equity will allow the county to operate for 2.7 months. The fund balance is $3,896,041. Last year, the fund balance was $1,805,929 and could only operate for 1.3 months.

2020 audit expenses Public Safety was the largest at 35 percent and general government came in second at 27 percent.

Pilgrim explained that counties want to keep between two- or three months’ worth of monies in the fund balance in case of emergencies. In 2019, when the county increased property taxes by 17 percent on its side, Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris explained that the dip in the fund balance was part of the reason why.

SPLOST 5 went into effect in 2021 and thus far $51,780 has been expended on capital projects. The 2015 SPLOST or SPLOST 4 expended $6,210,663 in collected sales tax. SPLOST money can’t go into the general fund.

“It does typically reduce the need for other taxation,” Pilgrim commented because it goes toward capital projects.

However, SPLOST doesn’t go toward the operational costs. TSPLOST has a little more room concerning the operation of roads and bridges.

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