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County audit gets glowing review

Douglas County’s finances for 2012 received glowing reviews this week.

Doug Host, of the accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen, reviewed and presented the county’s 2012 audit to commissioners during Tuesday’s board meeting and said, “The county management, the board, has really put the county itself in a very stable financial position, even through difficult economic times.”

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TOTAL REVENUES & EXPENDITURES

In 2012, Douglas County’s revenues overall (taxes, intergovernmental funds, fines, investment income, etc.) totaled about $46 million.

The county’s expenditures (highways, human services, health, economic development, capital outlay, debt service, etc.) totaled a little more than $53 million.

Expenditures exceeded revenues by $7 million.

In 2012, the fund balance decreased by $6,938,693 due to repayment of bonds and increased capital outlay expenditures.

However, overall, if the debt service and capital project fund activity for 2012 were not included, the fund balance for Douglas County’s governmental fund increased by $4.9 million.

Host told commissioners, “The debt and capital activity can really skew financial analysis so just keep that in mind.”

Since 2008, the county has seen a 12 percent increase in revenue.

Over that same five-year span, the county has had a 21 percent increase in expenditures.

“That’s mainly due to construction projects or road projects and actually if you look back at 2008, capital outlay was only $711,000 compared to $6.4 million in 2012. That really accounts for a large increase in the percentage increase of expenditures,” Host explained.

GENERAL FUND

REVENUES, EXPENDITURES

In 2012, Douglas County’s general fund revenues totaled $18.4 million and expenditures came in at $16.7 million, leaving a fund balance of approximately $3.6 million.

As of December 31, 2012, the county’s general fund had 4.7 months of expenditures in unrestricted fund balance. The Office of the State Auditor recommends that a county has no less than five months of expenditures in its fund balance.

Host told commissioners, “I’m not aware, offhand, of any county or city I audited that is quite as stable as this… and right in the target that the state auditor’s office has recommended.”

COUNTY DEBT

As of December 31, 2012, Douglas County’s governmental activities debt totaled about $40 million.

The audit notes the 2012 increase is due to issuance of 2012 general obligation bonds totaling about $35 million, which is the bulk of the county’s debt. In 2011, general obligation bonds totaled $32.3 million.

Also of note: The county’s lease revenue bonds were paid off through refunding in 2012, and compensated absences continue to increase as the county’s workforce nears retirement.

The county paid CliftonLarsonAllen $10,800 for its auditing services.

The summary presented Tuesday did not include financials for Douglas County Hospital, Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Management, or the Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Douglas County.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

(320) 763-3133
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