Dare County presented with clean audit

Published 6:19 am Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Dare County’s auditor provided a “clean, unmodified opinion” regarding the audit for the year ending June 30, 2023.

Additionally, no findings were reported in major federal and state awards and the county had no problems complying with accounting required for major programs.

Major federal and state programs tested included Medicaid and Disaster grants for Buxton Beach Nourishment. State programs tested included Island H modification, Miss Katie Oregon Inlet dredging, and Buxton and Avon beach nourishment.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

The audit report was delivered by Dan Morrow, a partner with the county’s audit firm Potter & Company, of Concord, North Carolina.

The yearly audit is presented as a part of the 240-page Annual Comprehensive Financial Report & Audit, available online on the county’s website site under the Department of Finance at DareCounty.gov.

Dare County finance director David Clawson gave an overview of the financial health of the county.

The county has 35 different funds. The General Fund, which is the operating fund, has six legally budgeted funds, including Capital Investment, Disaster Recovery, Law Enforcement Officers Special Separation Allowance (LEOSSA), Home Health and Hospice, Stormwater (replaced North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency Grant) and Community Housing, a parking place for $10.5 million allocated by Dare’s commissioners. Another fund shows state money of $34,088,470 allocated for housing.

Revenues from occupancy, local sales and statewide sales taxes increased last year but not as much as in 2022. Land transfer taxes dropped from a 4.75% increase to a decrease of 36.47%.

Taxable retail sales increased steadily over the last 10 years. In 2023, the total retail sales were $2.393 billion, almost $3 billion in retail sales.

Government debt stands at 0.75% of assessed property value, which Clawson called “very good.”

In his presentation to the board, Clawson noted:

– General Fund (consolidated) had fund balance of $67,937,536, but not all unrestricted. Available for appropriation: $15,875,254.

– Dredge loan forgiveness was $1,797,463.

– Six beach nourishment projects were completed.

– Local current expense for Dare County Schools, Dare has ranked no lower than second in 19 of the 21 years.

– Dare water system has installed automated meter systems in Roanoke Island, Hatteras Island and Colington. Duck is 70% complete; Southern Shores is 90% complete; Kitty Hawk is 95% complete.

– Debt is issued for Emergency Medical Services construction.

Clawson noted that the General Fund was $12.7 million under budget. The largest amount is salaries and fringes at $6.7 million, followed by operating a $2.8 million, purchase orders at $1.8 million, school indirect costs at $1.3 million, services and grants at $0.2 million.

Robert L. Outten, county manager, noted “we budget very conservatively.” He praised department heads for really working hard. “I’m proud of the work we do.”

Clawson also presented two substantial county financial policies for updates:

– Change the General Fund unassigned fund balance percentage from 21% to 25%.

– Allow a commercial paper investment of up to $5 million if it has two ratings with a “plus” (A1+/P1+/F1+). Currently, $3 million is allowed with A1/P1/F1.

The board-adopted financial policy changes can be viewed in the agenda packet for the Jan. 2, 2024 Board of Commissioners meeting, found on the county’s website DareNC.gov.