Report lays out county assets, liabilities

Oct. 26, 2013 @ 04:04 PM

Union County government published its comprehensive annual financial report for the 2013 fiscal year this week.

After the close of each fiscal year, state law requires the county government to issue an accurate statement of finances. Once that report is finished, an independent auditor reviews the financial statement and assesses its accuracy.

This year, Potter & Co. CPA issued a clean report, meaning auditors found no inconsistencies or misstatements about the county’s financial position.

The report states that in 2013, the value of the county’s total assets was $23,635,819,299. It carries $481,551,944 in debt, or 2.04 percent of the assessed value. Debt payments made up 23.4 percent of the county’s total expenditures in 2013. The debt per county resident was $2,289. The available fund balance was 12.2 percent of general fund expenditures.

Though hundreds of millions are still owed, the county reduced its overall debt by $34,519,741, or 5.97 percent in 2013.

“Although it is anticipated the County will experience steady growth, maintenance of existing infrastructure and facilities will become an even greater challenge. While the County’s current debt load is significant, 34.9 percent or $165.1 million of the County’s tax supported debt will be retired during the next five years,” the report states. “Within the next ten years, 65.1 percent or $307.8 million of the County’s tax supported debt will be retired. This maturation of debt sets the stage for the next round of infrastructure and maintenance needs.”

The population increased from 205,717 in 2012 to 210,410 in 2013. Officials estimate that number will grow to 253,693 residents by the year 2020

The county’s total net position included a deficit of $271,121,799 because of its long-term liability for debt for new schools while the assets built with that borrowed money was transfered to Union County Public Schools and South Piedmont Community College.

At the close of the 2013 fiscal year, the county had $128,567,208 in combined fund balance. That is less $17,913,017 the previous year.

“Approximately 48.4 percent of the amount, $62,284,839, is available for spending at the County’s discretion (unassigned fund balance,)” the report states. “At the end of the current fiscal year, the unrestricted fund balance (the total of the assigned and unassigned component of fund balance) for the general fund was $66,046,229, or approximately 29.9 percent of total general fund expenditures for the fiscal year.”

Some of that money cannot be spent. About $279,914 is owed to the county but not yet paid or is in an unspendable form. Almost $19 million is restricted for specific use by state and federal laws. And $47 million is assigned for a specific purpose.

There are two types of funds the county deals with. The first is general governmental funds from fees, taxes and other reimbursements. That money goes toward running government, making debt payments and capital projects.

The second kind is enterprise funds from utility services. That is the money paid by utility customers for service and spent on continuing or upgrading utility service.

The economy showed signs of growth, the report states. Though the county’s top ten taxpayers represent 2.54 percent of assessed value, household income remains higher than the state average. Development increased. The county issued 136 commercial and 1,756 residential construction permits in 2013. That is an overall increase of 27.5 percent over 2012 numbers.

The 2013 Comprehensice Annual Financial Report is available on the Union County website.