Auditors told Edgecombe County Commissioners on Monday night that they found significant deficiencies while compiling the 2010-2011 annual audit of county finances. Still, the audit received an unqualified opinion.
"As in previous years, you do have an unqualified opinion, in other words, a clean opinion," said Anne Mann of the accounting firm Flowers and Stanley, LLP. "That simply means, there are no exceptions. We're stating that the financial statements are fairly presented, and there are no exception for clauses. It is a clean report. We felt that the statements are fairly presented in all material aspects."
That unqualified opinion, along with a $4.2 million increase in assets over the previous year were two of the few highlights — and were all but offset by poor collections of taxes and two significant deficiencies regarding state and federal awards.
Countywide, slightly more than 90 percent of taxes due were collected. Out of slightly more than $27 million in taxes due, more than $2.5 million was still on the books at the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Taxes levied on property, excluding vehicles, was collected at a rate of 91.57 percent while taxes on motor vehicles was collected at a rate of only 79.19 percent.
"I believe that you have already heard some information as far as the tax collections for the prior year, I'm not going to sugar coat it, the numbers don't look great," Mann told commissioners. "I'll admit, our collections are down from the prior year, but with the state of the economy, especially with the state of the economy in Edgecombe County, it's understandable."
It was in the area of state and federal grants, where Edgecombe County received a total of $120 million, that the significant deficiencies were noted.
Because of that, Mann said, the county was subjected to "a little more scrutiny."
"When it came to federal and state money, we did have a finding in both federal programs and state programs," said Mann. "Findings can be categorized as two separate things: material weaknesses or significant deficiencies. The latter being the lesser problem. Both of the problems in Edgecombe County were significant deficiencies, meaning they need to be reported. It's something that needs to be considered, but is not to the extent that we felt further action really needed to be taken at the moment."
In other business, the Board of Commissioners approved the participation in the Statewide Misdemeanant Confinement Program. The State will reimburse Edgecombe County for expenses such as the care, supervision and transportation of misdemeanants sentenced to from 91 to 180 days. These people would serve their sentence in county jails as part of the program. There are currently 75 out of the 100 counties participating in this program in the state.
Also, the consideration of request for Boys & Girls Club of Nash/Edgecombe Counties for a onetime $20,000 donation to provide services for the princeville unit was tabled.
County Manager Lorenzo Carmen recommended the request be denied, but instead, the matter was tabled for further discussion at the commissioner's next meeting.