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Originally published: 2013-12-02 09:43:33
Last modified: 2013-12-02 09:44:19

Commissioners to review county audit

by Kellen Short

Watauga County commissioners will meet Tuesday morning to review the fiscal year 2013 audit and vote on several annual housekeeping matters.


The audit, performed by the Bryce Holder CPA firm, found no material weaknesses in the county's accounting systems or internal controls, according to a memo provided to commissioners.


The audit also found:


-- The county's assets exceeded liabilities by $118.83 million at the close of the fiscal year, an increase of $4.67 million from the previous year. "The change was primarily due to an increase in revenues and a reduction in expenditures over last year," the memo stated.


-- The county's unassigned fund balance for the general fund was $14.65 million at the end of the year, or almost 32 percent of total general fund expenditures. This figure represents an increase of $1.17 million in unassigned fund balance from the previous year.


-- Outstanding debt principle decreased by $5.87 million, partially due to additional principle payments of $329,113 from the refinancing of two high school loans. The county also cited "continued conservative budgeting, limited capital purchases and delayed rehiring for positions which became open" as reasons for the decrease. Watauga County's total outstanding debt principal as of June 30 was $57,739,080. The county's legal debt limit is more than $708 million.


-- The county maintained its bond rating of AA- and Aa3 from Standard and Poor's and Moody's Investors Service.


The full audit report is available online at http://bit.ly/WatCoaudit2013.


Board Chairman Nathan Miller said he "couldn't be happier" with the independent audit.


"Our management of the government, especially the conservative principles I like to live by, are not only saving county taxpayers enormous amounts of money, we are increasing the financial stability of the county," he said. "The audit shows our conservative stewardship is paying dividends to county citizens."


Also on Tuesday, the board will elect officers and assign each commissioner to serve on various boards and commissions. Commissioners also will appoint staff members who serve as the pleasure of the board, including County Manager Deron Geouque, clerk Anita Fogle, substitute clerks Monica Harrison and Tammy Adams and county attorney Stacy "Four" Eggers.


Miller noted that he had spoken with commissioners on both sides of the political spectrum and found that all were pleased with Geouque's professional service.


He said he also did not anticipate any changes with the county attorney role, despite Eggers coming under fire earlier this fall because of his role with the Watauga County Board of Elections.


The board also will receive a presentation from OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Service, Information and Shelter) director Jennifer Herman, make appointments for boards and commissions, and discuss in closed session attorney-client matters, land acquisition and personnel.


The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the commissioners board room, 814 W. King St., Boone.