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County projecting budget surpluses for FY2011-12

King George County is projecting to have a surplus of over $2 million for 2011-12, which ended on June 30. Surprisingly, the School Board is also projected to have a surplus currently estimated at $408,289.


That was the message of the finance reports by Deputy County Administrator/Director of Finance Donita Harper at last week’s meeting on Oct. 16. “This is a snapshot of how we project to end the year,” Harper said.
She made it clear that the numbers were preliminary, prior to the audit’s completion and could change.

SCHOOL BOARD SURPLUS PROJECTED AT $408,289
In fact, the estimate for the School Board projected surplus had already changed in the previous week. School Board Chairman Mike Rose had forecast a sizeable year-end surplus at the meeting on Oct. 10, according to what he said Harper told him.
The projected surplus that Rose announced from Harper six days previous was much lower, at $321,742 for the financial projection for the year-end surplus at the end of that fiscal year.
Now it is projected at of $408,289.
About the smaller projected surplus, Rose said at the time, “I was taken aback when I saw that we actually have a surplus of over 300K after we have been running at a deficit since the beginning of the year.”
Harper told Supervisors that a large part of the reason for the school division surplus was due to getting into better alignment with state accruals for sales tax revenue to the locality.
“The majority of it is our decision to fall in line with what the state does with revenue accruals. What we found out is that we had been accruing one month of revenue accruals and the state had been accruing two months. So, I made a decision to fall in line with the state for 2012. Now our revenue will match up with the state and it’s a one-time thing.”
Only two supervisors took part in the financial discussion with Harper - Dale Sisson and Joe Grzeika.
Sisson said, “So that accrual is really what gave us the margin, right? I met with Mike Rose and he was concerned about how we might view this, and I told him we would understand that clearly and that we were really at a fine point at the end of the year on getting them on the right side of the equation.
Grzeika affirmed, saying, “That was really the goal.” He also asked, “Is some of this also due to us giving them the extra money when we thought they were going to be in the red?”
Harper responded in the affirmative, saying, “Some of this is what you appropriated for additional funds.” Supervisors had appropriated $150,000 in additional funding to the School Board at the end of the fiscal year at the division’s request to ensure that it would not over spend its budget.
Sisson said, “I have no problem with it turning out that way. It’s much better than having parentheses around that number.” That would indicate a deficit.
Harper said another large part of the surplus was due to a problem with administrative vacant positions that were carried in the budget. Harper said, “That saved them money.”
Grzeika said, “Yes. And again, that is a one-time occurrence.” He added, “The one thing that I’d want to make sure is that we’re in strong communication with the new superintendent so he fully understands this picture. Because it is a little bit odd, some of the things that have happened. I would like to make sure that he really knows what he’s dealing with as he starts into his first budget preparation. So I think some time spent there would be worthwhile.”
Harper responded, “We can do that.”
Sisson wanted to know about enrollment, asking, “Are you getting reports on how the enrollment is tracking?” Harper said she did not receive enrollment reports to be able to better track state revenue.
Grzeika stated, “I thought in the past we had asked them for that so we get some idea about what the ADM (average daily attendance) is, because that’s a key component to this budget. Maybe we can go back and revisit that with the new superintendent. They were going to do that.”
Sisson agreed, saying, “That impacts the state equation there in a big way.”

COUNTY SURPLUS OF $2,080,302
On the county side for fiscal year 2011-12, Harper said she is projecting the General Fund to end the year with a surplus of $2,080,302. 
She said the county surplus was due to higher revenue from real estate taxes due to the tax increase that went into effect for the June collections.
She also noted that the state sales tax came in at more than a half a million dollars over budget.  Meals tax also came in about $100,000 over budget. Ambulance fees were also higher than expected, about $300,000 more than was budgeted.
Harper also pointed out that the county administration held tight reins on expenditures, under-spending by $1.6 million ($1,602,670.) So that was a pretty good year.
Grzeika stated, “Travis (Quesenberry, county administrator) and your staff are doing a good job on the expenditure side of this equation. $1.6 million is a good, healthy deduction. So keep up the good work and keep doing it.”
Sisson agreed, saying, “Yes, I think that is important to point out. It didn’t just happen. It happened through all our work and smart decisions, so thank you.”

Phyllis Cook

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