County Under Budget
It’s not every day or even every year that county officials learn they have extra money, however, County Commissioners had a pleasant surprise recently as the Jackson County Financial Audit for the fiscal year ending Sep. 30, 2019 revealed that the county came in under budget.
According to the audit, the county received $926,888 more in revenue than what had been budgeted for 2019. Sales taxes drove the single largest gain by generating $658,903 more than the projected $1 million dollars. Other positive revenues were $48,506 for property taxes, $71,033 in intergovernmental revenue, $53,523 for charges for services, $48,410 for fines and forfeitures, $19,922 for earned interest, and $26,920 for miscellaneous.
“Revenues were over $926,000 and it’s really difficult to budget sometimes because collection fines and forfeitures vary so much every year. Almost every revenue was over what we budgeted,” said Jackson County Auditor Michelle Darilek.
“Sales tax was trending higher. Interest rates went up too in 2019. When we budgeted, we budgeted at the current interest rate and then we ended up during the year getting higher interest rates.”
Darilek noted that the county also experienced a positive trend on expeditures in the general fund.
“Every department was under budget except for our disaster one which was due to the cyber attack and all the additional expenses associated with that,” said Darilek.
“On our total expenditures, we were under budget by $275,591. But Darilek added that amount was a bit misleading because approximately $192,000 of that amount were assets budgeted but not purchased. For example, the county had ordered three vehicles but they did not come in during the same fiscal year.
“They (unpurchased assets) were moved to the next year, so it gives a slightly inaccurate picture.”
Other notes on the 2019 audit include:
• The Commissioners’ Court of Jackson County committed $750,000 of the General Fund’s fund balance towards the planning and construction of a new correctional facility in the future; thus, these funds are not available to be spent at this time. A two-thirds majority vote of Commissioners’ Court would be required to remove the commitment.
• In addition, $66,819 of the General Fund’s fund balance is considered ‘Non-Spendable’ and must be maintained for prepaid Items and $151,092 of the General Fund’s fund balance is classified as assigned for future major capital asset purchases. The remaining General Fund balance of $4,757,583 is unassigned and available for any legal expenditure.
• The amount the county received in sales tax for FY 2019 was $658,903 over the amount budgeted. In addition, the county received $71,033 in grants that were not budgeted.
• All the County’s General Fund Departments, except the Disaster fund, came in under budget. The budgeted General Fund expenditures were underbudget by $275,591, with $192,070 of this amount due to equipment and other capital items that the county was unable to be purchase in Fiscal Year 2019. All but $1,095 of those purchases are included in the FY 2020 budgeted.
“We did do very well but primarily it was because our revenues were so much over budget,” said Darilek. “Usually there is not that big of discrepancy between our projected and our actual but there was in 2019.”
“Coming in under budget during the 2019 fiscal year was great news for Jackson County,” added Jackson County Judge Jill Sklar. “Last year at this time we were in the middle of a cyber security attack and there were huge concerns about its impact on our resources.
“Our elected officials and department heads worked together to ensure that our resources were used in the most efficient manner always keeping the taxpayer in mind. A year later we are still facing uncertain times and we will continue to stretch our tax dollars by finding innovative approaches to serving the citizens of Jackson County.”