Due to declining sales tax revenues, the county still spent more than it received in the General Fund for 2008. It is still financially sound, however, thanks to its reserve funds.


By Amy Wilson/amy.wilson@westsidestar.net

A regular audit of the financial operations of the Morgan County government, for the two fiscal years ending Dec. 31, 2008 and 2007, was recently completed by Casey & Company, L.L.C., CPAs as contracted by the State Auditor's Office.
While it did increase expenses, the contract between the Sheriff's Office and INS and U.S. Marshal's Office for boarding of prisoners did increase revenues enough to help the county financially, according to the audit report.
Due to declining sales tax revenues, the county still spent more than it received in the General Fund for 2008. It is still financially sound, however, thanks to its reserve funds.
Because of economic factors, the county did not increase the amount of revenues it expected to receive for the 2009 budget. While revenues for the coming year are still below the projected amount, they expect to reach the budgeted amount of revenue.
The property tax reassessment in 2009 should help revenues, according to the audit report, and the general tax levy was rolled back as a result. The special road and bridge levy should remain about the same.

Financial highlights
• The county's total governmental receipts exceeded total expenses by $132,100 in 2008 and by $832,443 in 2007.
• The county's governmental funds ended 2008 with a combined cash balance of $5,077,626 and 2007 with $4,945,526.
• The County budgeted approximately $100,000 in 2008 and disbursements increased substantially in 2008 for the additional cells and renovations to the Morgan County Justice Center. The additional cells are for the County's women inmates and will prevent the County from having to transfer them to other counties. This will keep Morgan County from expending funds to house women inmates in other counties.

As of Dec. 31, 2008, Morgan County had the following long-term debt:
• General obligation bonds for the Morgan County Justice Center totaling $2,440,000 due September 2014 with interest rates ranging 3.4 to 4.65 percent. These bonds are  accounted for in the Law Enforcement Sales Tax Fund.
• Neighborhood Improvement Districts (NIDs) for road improvements: The county has 14 NIDs with total bonded indebtedness totaling $1,946,000 with interest rates ranging from 4.875 to 7 percent and payoff due dates varying from 2008 to 2026. These bonds are accounted for through the various individual NID funds.