BY SARAH GREGORY
Members of the Greene County Commission's Investment Committee on Tuesday briefly discussed a state audit finding of "material noncompliance" related to a $1.93 million investment.
Committee members took no action during their quarterly meeting, but did hear updates from Trustee Dan Walker about some of the county's fund balances.
The state audit, released on Monday, returned a favorable unqualified opinion in spite of the finding.
In their report, state auditors issued a finding that concluded that an investment company hired by the county, Highland Capital Management, placed $1.86 million in funds not allowed by state statute.
Some bonds that were purchased had only "AA" ratings, when state law requires "AAA" ratings. Other municipal authorities and territorial bonds are not allowed, auditors said.
In addition to the $1.86 million, the company invested $74,000 in mutual funds, which is not permitted by statute, the audit stated.
Walker said that he had the investments liquidated as soon as he found out that the investments were unauthorized.
"We got out of it just as soon as we had seen that it wasn't going to please everybody," he said. "We didn't lose anything."
Walker noted that he reviewed the investments with the auditor prior to the report's release on Monday.
"I had the auditor go over them [bond investments] with me. They'd show me where they were rated 'AA' or 'AAA' -- but nothing was ever mentioned about mutual funds," he noted.
"The good thing is, it's not all that bad," said committee member Robert Byrd. "No misconduct and no losses. That's the key thing," he added.
FINANCIAL REPORTS HEARD
Committee members heard reports from Walker regarding various funds in the county's budget and property and sales tax collections.
Walker said the general fund balance -- the fund from which most county departments operate -- was $3,155,504 through the end of January 2013 compared with $2,994,063 the year prior.
"That's pretty close for a year's spending," Walker said of the $161,441 difference between the two years.
The other fund Walker noted was the highway capital projects fund.
That fund saw a significant change from the year prior due to purchase of the county's asphalt plant.
Through January 2012, that fund balance was reported as $4,276,407. This year, however, the balance was reported at $1,684,037 -- a difference of $2,595,370.
The county's total funds through the end of January 2013 were reported at $23,077,531. Through the end of January 2012, that figure was reported as $23,859,451 -- making this year's number $781,920 less.
PROPERTY, SALES TAX COLLECTIONS
Members of the committee commented on property and sales tax collections for the year.
Walker said that approximately 40 percent of property taxes for 2012-2013 had been collected. Property taxes this year are expected to total $22,773,156.
That figure is $2,939,899 higher than the 2011-2012 total of $19,833,257.
Committee Chairwoman Jan Kiker noted this year's figure is higher because it takes into account the property tax increase approved by the County Commission last fall.
"The money is better, even though the percent is down [due to the higher figure that must be collected]," observed committee member Bill Moss.
A review of sales tax figures, though, showed little difference from the prior year.
Sales tax net appropriations reported in January 2012 were $1,289,142. The report for January 2013 lists the net appropriations as $1,305,235.
"That's very close," said Walker. "You're talking about a $14,000 difference."
"We're not seeing any significant increases in these sales taxes," commented committee member Robert Byrd.
"No, not at this time," confirmed Walker.
"I don't think we're going to. I think you're going to see less," Byrd said, commenting on what he perceived to be weak retail sales.
Kiker adjourned the meeting, which lasted -- in total -- approximately 30 minutes.
The next meeting date has not yet been determined, but the Investment Committee will meet again in the next quarter -- probably as the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget process nears completion.