County audit confirms county making strides in improving financial health

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WEST BRANCH — The county has made significant improvements to its financial situation, Stephenson & Company Auditor Cynthia Scott said at the Ogemaw County Board of Commissioners meeting Feb. 28.

“I have told you for years that I like to see your unassigned fund balance — the fund balance that is available to use for your operations — at 15 percent of your budgeted expenditures,” Scott said during her presentation. “You are not there, but if you look where you were last year, last year your general fund had a $0 unassigned fund balance. You had to draw approximately $300,000 from your tax reversion fund just to make ends meet in the general fund.”

“I am so excited to say that you did not do that this year,” she continued.

Scott said the bottom line is the county did not need to transfer dollars to make its general fund budget whole, and by reducing expenditures and increasing revenue, the general fund balance was improved.

“That was a huge success, and although you still have 11 percent to make me feel more comfortable, you are absolutely heading in the right direction,” Scott said.

Each year public bodies have their books audited under Michigan law. The audit is conducted for a variety of reasons, including verifying the records match the activity for the year.

“We are not saying whether or not you are in good financial standing or poor financial standing,” Scott said. “We are saying, ‘Is this information contained in this report free of material misstatement?’ We were able to issue an unmodified opinion this year, as we have in the past, saying, ‘Yes, this is solid information you can rely on.’”

The audit included a management discussion that touched on some county financial highlights.

The county’s assets exceeded its liabilities by more than $4.4 million, and the ending balance in its general fund increased by $381,793.

According to the audit, the primary reason for the increase in the general fund is an increased revenue of approximately $400,000 related to federal and state grants, charges for services and property taxes.

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