Tuesday, 05 January 2021 23:28

Richmond County receives favorable report on 2020 financial audit

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Richmond County receives favorable report on 2020 financial audit Pixabay

ROCKINGHAM — “There were no significant audit findings” in the county’s finances, CPA Alan Thompson told the Richmond County Board of Commissioners during Tuesday’s meeting.

Thompson— of the firm Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams and Co. —  told the commissioners this was overall a good report and that, just a few years ago, that was not the case.  

State statute requires local governments to have a minimum fund balance of 8.33% which is equivalent to one month’s expenditures.  

“In 2018 you were not where you wanted to be,” said Thompson. “The fund balance has a direct impact on interest rates if you go to borrow money.”  

A government’s bond rating is a reflection of their fund balance.  

“A lot of work was done to get the general fund back in the right direction,” according to Thompson.    

He noted that in previous years Richmond County used transfers from solid waste to the general fund to help balance the books. The Local Government Commission “frowns on that,” according to Thompson.  

“That didn’t happen this year and you still had a nice bump up in the general fund,” Thompson said.

Total general fund expenditures were $51.5 million, with 19.46% fund balance available as a percentage of the general fund expenditures.  

“The audit is considered to be my annual report card,” said County Manager Bryan Land, noting that the fund balance increased 21% this year. “We are getting that perfect V-shaped recovery that you are looking for and trending in an upper trajectory.”

 Land also said the county achieved its highest tax collection ever at 96.64%, excluding vehicles, which is collected by the state. 

“This is the second consecutive year and only the second time since 2005 that the fund balance wasn’t utilized to balance our budget,” Land said. 

In other business, new appointments were made to fill vacancies left from outgoing commissioners:

  • Commissioner Tavares Bostic was named to the Lumber River Council of Government’s Board of Directors.
  • Vice Chairman Justin Dawkins will serve as representative for Workforce Development and serve on the Richmond County Water Committee.
  • Chairman Jeff Smart will fill the opening on the Transportation Board with Commissioner Rick Watkins serving as alternate.  
  • Commissioner Andy Grooms was named to the Board of Directors of the Area of Richmond Transit.

During the open forum portion of the meeting, Jeff Meacham spoke requesting a resolution from the county commissioners to abandon Dockery Lake Road due to safety concerns.  

Meacham cited road conditions and the inability for two vehicles to safely pass on the road as reasons for the request.  

According to Meacham, other residents are in agreement with the abandonment request.  

County officials have a meeting scheduled Wednesday with the N.C. Department of Transportation at the site to review and discuss the path forward.  

During his monthly report, Land praised Health and Human Services Director Dr. Tommy Jarrell, Cheryl Speight and the entire health department staff, saying they “deserve the largest pat on the back for this year as they have done a tremendous job with handling the day-to-day duties with COVID.” 

“Their batteries are drained from the event but they always seem to stay positive and continue to do their jobs,”  Land said. “We’re all hopeful that 2021 will bring a glimmer of hope for everyone.” 

As of Tuesday COVID-19 stats in Richmond County are as follows:

  • 2,813 positive cases
  • 25,932 tests completed
  • 23,119 tests have been negative or inconclusive
  • 2,437 people have recovered
  • 53 deaths have been attributed to COVID. 

Land noted that 11 of these deaths have occurred since the last board meeting in December.  

As for vaccine distributions, Land said that Richmond County is currently in phase 1A which includes health care workers and vaccinators, as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities.  

The next phase is planned to begin next week on Jan. 11 and will focus on those 75 years of age and over.  These vaccinations will be administered by the Richmond County Health Department and FirstHealth.  

Information on how to schedule appointments will be published by the Richmond Observer later this week once it’s made available.    

The board also unanimously adopted a proclamation as a legal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which will be observed on Jan. 18, 2021.