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Audit finds county in good financial shape

Posted: Tuesday, Jul 9th, 2013

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — Alamosa County ended the 2012 year on solid financial ground, according to a newly released audit of its financial statements for the 12-month period that ended last December.

The accounting firm of Wall, Smith, Bateman gave the county an “unmodified” opinion — the kind of opinion that its clients want to see.

Altogether, the county’s net assets grew by just under $176,000, or 0.7 percent, over the previous year, for a total of more than $30.1 million. Total assets exceeded liabilities by more than $23.5 million, and its liabilities actually dropped by $188,957, or 2.7 percent.

The county’s total reported expenditures were up by nearly $500,000 in 2012, rising from $27.14 million to almost $27.64 million. But it still managed to boost its reserves slightly in order to cushion it from future spending.

However, the county faced some growing financial burdens, as its population of jail inmates rose and the sheriff’s department continued to deal with a high turnover rate among its employees.

Public safety expenses rose by $381,872 to just under $3.3 million — a 13.08 percent increase over the previous year.

At the same time, though, total governmental revenues increased by $622,353, or 2.30 percent.

Most of the county’s revenue comes from intergovernmental sources, including the federal government, and in 2012, that funding source grew by $225,888, to more than $19.19 million. Revenue from taxes was also up by nearly $170,000, to $6.46 million.

Other revenue sources, including license and permit fees and investment income, fell significantly. But those sources account for just a tiny portion of total governmental revenues.

While revenues for the county’s general fund rose by almost $200,000, to more than $7.25 million, the major operating fund ended the year with a balance of $3.46 million, a 3.74 percent drop from 2011 levels.

Part of the loss can be tied to higher operating expenses. But once it took rising public safety costs into consideration, the county reported that its general fund maintained its expenditures, as compared to 2011.

Considering the amount of information and money involved, auditors found that the county did a good job of handling many of its financial responsibilities for the year.

“I think that you and your staff should be commended, as well,” Wall, Smith, Bateman Shareholder Karla Willschau told county officials on June 26.

However, auditors did find that the county failed to maintain complete and accurate case files on its foster care program clients. The county’s human services department responded to that finding by implementing a plan of corrective action, according to the report.

Alamosa County Commissioner Marianne Dunne thanked her fellow board members, including former Commissioner George Wilkinson, for their work on the county’s budget.

She noted that the county spends 80 percent of its budget on services for its citizens, compared to just 13 percent on general government activities, including some mandated costs.

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