Auditor once again praises Coweta’s finances
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Coweta County’s fiscal year 2013 audit was presented at Tuesday’s Coweta County Commission meeting, and again, the report was glowing.
Beth Grimes of Bates, Carter & Co. presented the audited financial statement. Grimes said she was issuing an unqualified or “clean” opinion. In looking at financial controls, there were no deficiencies.
In FY 2013, Coweta County had planned to use $2.5 million from its reserves to do specific projects. The county only ended up using $487,000. “That’s very good for those reserves,” Grimes said.
The county’s revenues increased by $1 million from FY 2012. Property taxes were up $1.3 million, and most of that was because of the new “title ad valorem tax” system for vehicle tags.
However, the Local Option Sales Tax decreased by $1.5 million. And the TAVT probably had a lot to do with that. “It is going to be interesting to watch the change there,” Grimes said.
Expenditures were up by $2.9 million over FY 12. Increases were seen in many departments including courts, the drug court, salaries and benefits for the jail and sheriff's office, roads, and others.
In FY 2013, Coweta paid off the 2006 bonds, which were used to pre-fund projects with the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and the “certificate of participation” that was used to pay for the juvenile justice facility.
The county’s large “fund balance” reserve really shows diligent management, Grimes said. “I very much just recommend that continued strong management, and not using that fund for recurring expenditures but only for one time expenses,” she said.
A big change is coming to financial reporting related to pension funds. Starting in FY 2015, governments will have to show their unfunded pension liability in the financial statements. As of Sept. 30, 2013, Coweta’s was $27 million.
“This really has a big impact, that we need to be planning for and thinking about,” Grimes said.
The commissioners also accepted the final FY 2013 budget amendments.
In other meeting business:
• The board approved the purchase of ambulance remounts for Coweta Emergency Medical Service. Money had been budgeted for one new ambulance. Instead, the money will be used to remount two high mileage ambulances, and plans are to put money for a new ambulance in the FY 2015 budget.
There have been some availability issues with getting chassis for ambulances, said Assistant County Administrator Kelly Mickle.
• The commissioners approved a consulting agreement with Engineering Associates to perform a “phase 1 evaluation” of the 700MHz public safety communications radio system. The total cost is $23,200. Funding is from the 2009 fire bond. • The commissioners approved a special use permit for a cell tower at 2270 Smokey Road.
• A public hearing was held on the exemption of some county vehicles from labeling requirements. Two vehicles used by the administrator’s office and two used by the coroner’s office won’t be labeled as county vehicles.
• Emergency Manager Director Jay Jones presented the fifth class of Coweta’s Certified Emergency Response Teams.
• The board appointed Steve Stripling and Rob Brass to fill the unexpired terms of David Brown on the Coweta County Development Authority and the Development Authority of Coweta County.
• The board set a public hearing on June 17 for the proposed abandonment of a portion of Wynn’s Pond Road.
• The board approved a mass fatality plan for Coweta County, and acceptance of equipment to support that plan for the Coweta Coroner’s Office/Morgue.
• The board approved agreements with Georgia Power Company for utility relocations for the Newnan Bypass extension project and the intersection improvement project at U.S. 29, Pine Road, and Ga. Hwy. 16. The total cost for the utility relocation will be $538,073.