During a Thursday (July 17) Board of Commissioners meeting, Beth Grimes, of Bates, Carter &Company LLP, commended county leaders for several fiscal accomplishments for 2013.
The audit, which is posted in its entirety on the county’s website, concludes with 5 findings. It addresses internal controls throughout the county; concentrating on department functioning, fiscal outlook, and the performance of elected officials.
The total budget for 2013 was approximately $19 million.
The audit reveals that the county fund was reduced by 7.8 percent. Likewise, expenditures were reduced by 7.10 percent.
Revenue reductions included approximately $182,000 in property tax, $147,000 in sales tax, and $486,000 in Emergency Management Services (EMS).
Reductions came largely from public safety in the amount of roughly $364,000.
Over all, the county came in $74,000 under budget with a net income of $7,000.
2013 ‘long term debt’ (in large part representing infrastructure investments) was recorded at $4.7 million. Bates noted that, relative to other counties, Pickens has a low debt percentage.
The greatest fiscal accomplishment for the county was the pay-off of the court house on July 3, of this year.
Audit Deficiencies- A Focus on the Clerk of Court
The audit did reveal some deficiencies.
Chief among them were a set of three deficiencies noted in the functioning of the Clerk of Court.
The deficiencies involved the recording of financial transactions.
Bates noted that this was the third consecutive year in which the office of the Clerk of Court was cited as deficient in the annual audit. She said past audits had been addressed through a
”corrective action plan.”
Upon a guest resident’s comment, the BOC discussed possible accountability mechanisms which might improve the office’s functioning.
County Attorney, Philip Landrum, fielded questions reminding those in attendance that the Clerk of Court is a ‘constitutional officer’ accountable solely to voters. He reminded the audience that no criminal conduct had occurred.
It was suggested that the Grand Jury could make recommendations citing the audit but Landrum reminded the audience that this would only represent a non-binding resolution.
The EMS department and the county landfill were also cited for minor deficiencies.
Guest Initiated Discussions on Road Building
During the ‘Guest and Comments’ portion of the meeting, a resident asked several questions regarding road building and repair in the county.
Henceforth, the criteria for road expenditures of Special Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) monies were discussed. Commission Chairman Rob Jones informally reviewed the factors to be considered when choosing which roads to be reconstructed or paved.
In other BOC business:
The county adopted a Records Retention Policy mirroring that of the Georgia Archives system.
An updated version of the Employee Handbook was approved by the board.
A resolution reappointing Kathy Bruce to the Pickens County Family and Children Service (DFCS) board was passed allowing Ms. Bruce to serve 5 more years passed the board.