Tooele County’s financial health improved in 2013.
That’s the conclusion from an independent audit report for the year ending Dec. 31, 2013.
“The changes made during the year, although hard, have had an overall positive impact on the financial position of the county,” reads the report’s executive summary, which was prepared by Ulrich and Associates, an Ogden-based accounting firm contracted by the county to perform the state mandated annual audit.
The county’s 2013 year-end general fund unassigned fund balance, the amount of funds available for use at the discretion of the county commission, was up from $1,564,077 in 2012 to 2,649,397 at the end of 2013, an increase of 69 percent, according to Mike Ulrich, who presented the audit findings to the county commission at their Tuesday night meeting.
However, only $158,000 of that fund balance was in cash; the remaining fund balance was made up largely of receivables to be collected by the end of February, according to Ulrich.
“If you want to keep it tight and not save for a rainy day, then that’s good, because that’s what you’re doing,” he said. “I would take a look at that.”
Ulrich suggested two or three months of operating expenses in cash as an appropriate reserve amount.
“You don’t have a lot of breathing room,” he said.
The state minimum for the county’s fund balance is 5 percent of revenue while the maximum fund balance allowed by state law is 50 percent of revenue, according to Ulrich.
“You currently have a fund balance of around 11 to 12 percent, which is at the lower end but still within the parameters,” he said.
Ulrich noted that the county was successful at reducing the balance of interfund loans to the Deseret Peak Complex fund. The amount owed to other funds by the Deseret Peak fund dropped from $6.5 million at end of 2012 to $4.6 million at end of 2013, according to the audit report.
While Deseret Peak Complex continues to operate in the red, the amount of cash used for operating activities there dropped by 56 percent, from $1,499,329 in 2012 to $658,930 in 2013. These figures do not include depreciation or debt service expenses.
While the auditors gave the county a clean opinion on it financial statements, the audit report did note a few areas for improvement.
The auditors called attention to the fact that the county did not provide the required seven day advance notice for the budget adoption hearing for the 2013 budget.
For the second year in a row, the lack of timely entering of transactions into the accounting system caused some funds to exceed their budget at year end, according to the audit report.
Auditors also recommended that procedures be adopted to ensure proper monitoring of federal alcohol and substance abuse grant funds and the county’s mental health grant.
In addition to building the fund balance, the county also lowered its long term debt on 2013, according to Ulrich.
“The county ended the year with $36 million in long term debt, down almost $2.5 million from last year,” he said. “The county had no problems in making its obligations to pay their long term debt obligations.”