Reader offers information researched on local fund balances

Published 9:14 am Monday, July 30, 2018

To the editor:
Carter County friends, like most of you I have been confused about all the Tax/Budget/Veto info flying around. So I did some research. Please take a look and if you agree please share some or all of this with your friends and family.
I say there should NOT be a tax increase when every year our income is greater than our expenditures.
This surplus is added into “savings” accounts which continue to grow. These investments are managed by the Trustee, and placed with three local banks.
Following my research I believe that our General Fund Balance and Debt Service Fund Balance are:
• Too high when compared with annual spending
• Continuing to increase every year
So can the Commissioners who support a tax increase explain to me:
1. Why we need to raise taxes rather than reducing these “Pots of Money”?
2. Why the end of year General Fund and Debt Service Fund balances are higher than the guidelines from TN County Technical Assistance Services (CTAS)? General Fund: they say 33% of annual expenses, we have 61%; Debt Service: they say 50% of annual expenses, we have 216%
BTW — this is what Washington County and many other TN counties do!
3. Why do we only invest in three local banks when there are a large variety of investments that could be made? Do we have bids that prove we are getting the best investment rates?
For those who need some background information, there is a Highway Fund, a Debt Service Fund, and Others Fund and then the General Fund which is the one that everybody talks about. These are used by our Finance Department to record the income and expenditures relevant to each Fund.
The Fund Balance is what is left in each Fund at the end of the year. At the end of July 2017 the Total Fund Balance was $18.99 Million.
There was $10.1M in the General Fund (general operating costs), $2.7M in the Highways Fund, $4.9M in Debt Service (where we repay our loans), $1.3M in Others Fund.
Given that our property taxes don’t get paid until October we need to have an end of year General Fund Balance that will cover four months of expenditures.
For the Debt Service it is recommended to have 6 months worth of loan repayments in the Fund Balance.
Then our property taxes and other income will pay our ongoing expenses for the year.
Over the years both the Total Funds balance and the General Funds balance have increased every year:
Total Funds balance went from $13.29 Million in July 2014 to $18.99 Million in July 2017
General Funds balance went from $6.89 Million in July 2014 to $10.08 Million in July 2017
So, in other words we have been adding to our “savings” account in Carter County Government every year, while increasing taxes.
TN County Technical Assistance Services (CTAS) recommends every county set a policy for their Funds. We do not have any. You can read more here:
Also, TN State Law says that we should get at least 2 proposals before investing:
“ (2) Certificates of deposit and other evidence of deposit at Tennessee state chartered banks and savings and loan associations and federally chartered banks and savings and loan associations. Prior to making these investments, the county official shall obtain and document at least two (2) proposals from banks or other financial institutions to assure the county receives the highest and best rate of return. The documentation shall be retained in the official’s office for a period of not less than three (3) years.”
(TENN. CODE ANN. § 5-8-301. Authorized investments.)
Our TN State annual audits can be found at:

Chris Prince

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