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Dawson County in good financial shape
Auditor presents 2017 financial report
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Dawson County is in good financial shape, according to the county’s 2017 audit results.

Chris Hollifield, managing partner of Rushton and Company, a Gainesville CPA firm, presented the audit results to the board of commissioners June 14.

Hollifield said that the audit went very smooth and issued a clean financial opinion of the county’s financial reporting.

During his presentation to the board, Hollifield mentioned several budget highlights, and stated that of the county’s total $35.7 million in revenue in 2017, 41.79 percent came from sales tax, while property taxes made up 31.4 percent of revenue. Grants, charges for services and other taxes made up the rest of the revenue.

“Property tax is not the sole source of what’s funding everything that we’ve got,” he said. “Both LOST and SPLOST had a pretty good increase in 2017, so that’s significant. That helps keep your property taxes where you’d like for them to be.”

The county’s general fund revenue increased $1,396,424, or 6.3 percent from 2016 to 2017. Property tax revenue increased by $674,530 and LOST collections increased by $746,247.

SPLOST collections increased 12 percent in 2017.

As far as where money is being spent, of the county’s total $31.8 million in expenses in 2017, public safety amounts for 44 percent of expenses, public works 17 percent, judicial 10 percent and general government 16 percent. Other expenses include health and welfare, culture and recreation and housing and development.  

Hollifield said expenditures increased $853,765, or a little over 4 percent, from 2016 to 2017.

“The most significant ones of all the departments were the tax assessors increased, the sheriffs increased, the fire increased and emergency medical services increased,” Hollifield said. “And we weren’t over budget in any of those departments, so all of those expenditure increases were budgeted and planned for by the commissioners.”

Hollifield also said that the county has made significant strides to pay off debt, which has decreased from $19.3 million in 2013 to $2.9 million in 2017, and most of that is in one contract with Etowah Water and Sewer Authority.

As of Dec. 31, the county reported a general fund balance of $8.2 million for a combined fund balance of $15.1 million, an increase of $1.8 million over 2016.

State law requires that the county publish a complete set of audited financial statements within six months of the close of each fiscal year, which for the county was Dec. 31, 2017. The report is called the 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR, and can  be found on the county’s website at Pages 15 and 16 show the county’s net position as of Dec. 31.

The CAFR will will be submitted to the Government Finance Officers Association to determine its eligibility for a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

In 2017, the county received that award for the 10th consecutive  year.

The board voted to accept the audit results at its June 21 voting session.