An audit presented to the Camden County Commission offered a mixture of news, some good some not-so-good


An audit presented to the Camden County Commission offered a mixture of news, some good some not-so-good
While the county as a whole is managing, the sheriff's department could find itself without enough money to meet payroll by the end of the year.
On Tuesday morning, auditor Sonny Evers of Evers and Company presented the findings of an independent audit of the county government for 2009. Most of the findings in the audit were positive, Ever said.
"You've got a clean opinion and it doesn't get any better than that," Evers said.
The auditor pointed out what he believes to be a misconception in the general public on independent auditors. The firm examines all accounts and looks over a cross-section of financial transactions, but does not review every single financial action that a county government takes.
"We do transaction testing. You do not want to pay us to look at every transaction. You've got thousands of transactions," Evers said.
The auditor told county officials that the general fund balance is fairly solid, despite a decline in tax revenue.
The Camden County general fund spends $955,000 monthly on average.  If all income ceased, Camden County could continue its general revenue spending for six months.
"Six months is good. A lot of them don't ever get that good. I've been mentioning to you all for several years that I would like to see you get to a six-month working fund balance," Evers said to the commissioners. "Going into leaner times with more money on hand is a good thing."
Camden County's funds for its road and bridge tax and law enforcement tax are separate. The county government transferred $5.5 million from general revenue to cover an excess of expenditures of $5.39 million from the law enforcement sales tax fund.
"You've got about three fourths of a month in the fund balance," Evers said. "That's pretty thin."
Camden County Treasurer Elaine Gilley says the funding from the law enforcement tax with the help from general revenue is barely enough to make payroll by year's end.
"This is going to be the critical next couple of months," Presiding Commissioner Carolyn Loraine said. "What we've said is we are not cutting their budget at all. They are spending faster than they have it."
Any changes to spending ultimately fall on the shoulders of Sheriff Dwight Franklin, who did not attend the commission's audit meeting.
"He is the elected official and it's his job to manage his budget," First District Commissioner Bev Thomas said.
By state law, the county commission cannot control what department heads spend money on, commissioners may only offer suggestions. The commission may only watch the sheriff's department bottom line when the annual budget is set each year.
Evers suggested that the commission encourage department heads, and Sheriff Franklin, to make budget amendments if their working fund balance drops below three months of sustainability.
"Hopefully he'll listen or he's going to have some real upset employees," Evers said.
Commissioner Thomas noted that most departments will need to tighten spending anyway. The audit that Evers presented showed expenses up to Dec. 31, 2009. Sales tax revenues have declined since then. This year's Camden County sales tax revenues sit down just over two percent from 2009.
"I think we'll close out the year down at least four percent. We had a good July," Thomas said.
Treasurer Gilley noted that July revenues from this year were down over 20 percent from what Camden County took in sales tax four years ago.