Mercer County finances looking good

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

All signs indicate that Mercer County finances are continuing to improve.

Sarah Bohnsack of CPA firm of Bohnsack & Frommelt LLP, provided the Mercer County Board Finance Committee with a look at what has happened since last year's financial report. Bohnsack gave her report on a conference call.

Some of the highlights included the Highway Fund payroll being down about $75,000 to $80,000 compared to the same time last year. She said that was largely due "to a mild winter for snow and ice removal."

Finance Committee Chairman Ted Pappas asked Bohnsack, "at the end of the day, how did the General Fund perform?"

She said the beginning fund balance last year was $461,000, while this year's is fund balance began the year with $211,000 more.

"So, I would say you've made progress," Bohnsack said.

"It think that's good news, ladies and gentlemen," Pappas said. "'15 was good and I think '16 will be better."

A chart in a written report provided to committee members showed $428,463 in the fund balance at the beginning of 2013, $461,036 at the start of 2014 and $672,368 in 2015.

Bruce DeLashmit of Bellwether LLC, the county's consultative administrator, said Bohnsack's report showed a favorable trend.

"What we're left with now is moving forward" in the same direction, DeLashmit said.

He said that means managing expenses, revenue and debt.

Cat Lange and DeLashmit presented a General Fund overview.

"The first six months, our revenue is less than expected, so that depleted our cash balance," Lange said. "Once we reach June, that's when we get back to the positive."

June is when property tax payments will begin flowing into the courthouse. Lange said not only will that help the cash balance, the county should be able to continue to pay down its line of credit.

County Treasurer Bev Lower said all is on track for those tax bills to be mailed out on schedule.

"So far we seem to be on track," Lower said. "We're till shooting to them in the mail the first month of May."

She said that means the first distribution to taxing bodies should come around June 24.

DeLashmit also talked about improvements in how the county handles its finances.

"In the past we were tempted to address each crisis without a broader view," he said, adding that even this year, "we were slow in bringing the authorization for inter-fund borrowing to the board.

DeLashmit said the line of credit should be reduced another $60,000 this year. He said he's confident the finances will do well this year.

"This is the most conservative model on all expenses," he said. "What we have to resist is looking at out balances and feeling rich. In June, we'll have a lot of money."