Smith County: area experiencing “positive” financial trends

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 12:06pm

The Smith County Commissioners Court was presented with encouraging results from an annual independent financial audit conducted by Henry & Peters, P.C. during its regular meeting this week.

“The County is seeing some positive trends for this economic environment,” CPA Tal Glenn said following his presentation.

Smith County has a policy of maintaining a minimum level of reserve funds at 12 percent of budgeted expenditures, and for the 2011 fiscal year the county was able to increase its reserves by $4.5 million, more than doubling the policy minimum.

County revenue for 2011 exceeded budgeted projections while expenditures came in under budget, and the county’s bond rating increased which contributed to the interest savings the county realized related to the jail bond indebtedness. During fiscal year 2011 Smith County adopted and implemented its first formal Capital Improvement Plan which addresses major capital projects for the five year period from 2012 through 2017.

“Our annual budget process serves as the foundation of the County’s planning, and it’s good to see the fruits of that process,” said County Judge Joel Baker who serves as the county’s budget officer and the presiding officer of commissioners court. “The last several years have been difficult for everyone, and these positive trends are encouraging.”

For the sixth consecutive year, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) awarded Smith County a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its fiscal year 2011 budget. Also during 2011 the county received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the GFOA. Additionally, the county continues to be recognized for financial transparency by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The Comptroller has awarded the county its second Leadership Circle Gold Award for meeting such a high standard of openness, and Smith County was one of the first counties in Texas to make its check register available online for public review.

“We are literally an open book,” offered Judge Baker.

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