Charlevoix County audit approved; solvent but challenges lie ahead

AUDIT WEB

Benjamin Gohs

News Editor

Charlevoix County government remains financially solvent but it faces serious challenges from liabilities like the costs of retiree benefits.

CPA Steve Kirinovic of Abraham & Gaffney presented the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners with its 2013 financial audit during the board’s regular Wednesday March 26 meeting.

“Financially I think (Charlevoix County is) very stable,” Kirinovic said… “You, and every other governmental entity in the State of Michigan, have got some pretty significant liabilities out there that you need to keep an eye on that are going to come back to haunt us.”

Both pensions and other post-employment benefits are posing concerns for governmental entities which did not plan for them when they originally began.

The auditor said all the governmental activities in the county were reduced to assets, current liabilities, net accumulated appreciation and the resulting net position.

“This is the main objective of the audit process … to go through and make a professional judgment that everything that is presented is fairly stated,” Kirinovic said, adding that the audit opinion statement appears much different from the previous year due to changes in state requirements intended to clarify information.

Charlevoix County’s current assets are $16,782,000. The county’s current liabilities are just over $1.1 million.

“The different between those figures is what we would call net working capital,” Kirinovic said. “that’s a little over $15.5 million. What that shows you … is you are able to meet your current obligations with your current assets, so a good position to be in.”

At a budgetary level, the county’s unassigned general fund balance is roughly $4 million—which Kirinovic called a “healthy” amount.

Total revenues are a little over $12 million, down by nearly $300,000 from last year. Kirinovic called the figures “pretty consistent” with no significant changes.

The total expenditures were a little over $12.5 million—up just about $10,000 from the previous year.

“Comparing 2012 to 2013, very good budgetary control over the dollars,” Kirinovic said.

A look at three of the last five years shows revenues exceeding expenditures.

Charlevoix County Commissioner George T. Lasater (R-District 1) asked the auditor if there were any concerns with Charlevoix County’s procedures, processes or internal controls as it pertained to accounting.

According to the report there were no major findings and merely some suggestions made on areas that could use improvement.

Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen (R-District 2) mentioned one such recommendation by Kirinovic that the county work with the road commission to ensure the county road commission’s audits are available in a more timely fashion in order to include its information in the county’s final report. The road commission’s information from 2012 was included because the 2013 information was not available when the county’s audit was prepared.

The audit was unanimously accepted by the board.