COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: Board gets positive audit report

  • Sharon Gillespie of Young, Miller & Gillespie Public Accountants in Spruce Pine presented her findings to the board and said the county received an unmodified, or clean, audit. (Brandon Roberts/MNJ)

BAKERSVILLE – The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners during its regular meeting Monday, Nov. 4, received some good news about its fiscal year 2018-19 audit. 

Sharon Gillespie of Young, Miller & Gillespie Public Accountants in Spruce Pine presented her findings to the board and said the county received an unmodified, or clean, audit.

“We issue three types of opinions as auditors,” Gillespie said. “An unmodified opinion, a modified opinion or an adverse opinion. An unmodified opinion is a clean audit, and once again this year, you have an unmodified opinion.” 

Gillespie said the county’s $7.4 million cash on hand is in line with the guidelines set by the Local Government Commission. 

“The local government commission wants you to have on-hand between three and four months’ operating cash, and this is a little bit over four, so you are in good shape,” Gillespie said. “You are maintaining enough cash in your general fund to cover about four months of operations, and that is where you want to be. You are a little bit ahead of that.”

Gillespie said the county has consistently added to its fund balance. 

“That is very important because if you don’t have a fund balance built, you can’t improve the county,” she said. “You can’t do projects and other things you need to do.”

Gillespie said the county’s budget-to-actual shows no violations. 

“As a county government, you budget by functions using separate pots of money,” she said. “Had you not done a good job amending or making that budget, there would be a lot of violations.”

The audit revealed the county’s tax department had collected more than 96 percent of taxes, and the county has a “consistently good tax-collection rate,” Gillespie said. 

The statewide rate for similar counties is 97 percent.

Fund balance percentages statewide in similar-sized counties had a fund balance of 32.43 percent, while Mitchell’s is 34 percent, above the statewide average. 

“There were a lot of good, positive things in this audit,” Gillespie said. “Big-ticket items were substantial completion of the new 911 center, and you received a lot of grant funding for that. 

You’re doing OK.”

Also at the meeting, the Board updated its personnel policy to allow family members to work in the same department. The policy still doesn’t allow a family member to supervise a family member within the same department.

The board approved its EMS Request for Proposals for ambulance service for the upcoming fiscal year. County manager Kathy Young said one option for service is for two ambulances 24 hours a day and one ambulance for 12 hours. A second option is for three ambulances 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and a third option is creating a community paramedic program to work in conjunction with the county’s EMS.

During the board comments portion of the meeting, Commissioner Jeff Harding asked about the process of hiring a clerk to the board. Young said she has received five resumes and would provide copies of them to the commissioners. Board Chair Danny Burleson said once the board looks over them, he will call a meeting to discuss candidates for the position.

Harding said he and Norma Duncan had a meeting scheduled with AppHealth Director Jennifer Greene even though the AppHealth Board had previously canceled a special meeting to discuss allowing Mitchell County to join. Harding said the meeting was for “informational purposes” only and urged his fellow commissioners to meet with representatives from the Toe River Health District.

“Are we going to sit down with the Toe River Health District and say, ‘OK, these are the problems we have and the questions we have to ask,’” Harding said. “Are we not going to do that? I’ve had people ask if we are going to meet.”

Burleson asked if Harding received the financials from the Toe River Health Board, to which he answered yes, and Burleson asked if he would provide him with a copy of those documents.

All the commissioners agreed to a meeting.