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Pickens County debt very low, according to auditors

Highlights from audit presented to board

            When compared to similar counties, Pickens’ long-term debt is significantly lower, according to an audit presentation at last week’s regular board of commissioners meeting on Thursday, Sept. 2.

            Amanda Wilkson of Bates, Carter & Co. applauded county leadership for being fiscally responsible, with long-term debt now at approximately $3.4 million. A graph included in the audit summary showed comparable counties with around four times that amount of long-term debt.

            Of Pickens County’s $3.4 million in debt, $3.1 million is for a note for the new public works facility (2.33 percent interest/matures in 2029) and a note for the new recycling facility (2.175 percent interest/matures 2030); in addition to $304,000 in capital leases.

Other highlights from the audit include:

General Fund

            •Revenues exceeded expenditures by $763,000.

            •Overall revenues increased $4.7 million, or 17 percent, from previous year. This is attributed in part to a $2 million increase in taxes including: Property tax up by $532,000, which coupled with a lower millage rate indicates strong growth in the county; an increase in Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) revenues of $443,000 due to changes in the way those taxes are distributed to state and local governments; an increase in sales tax of $602,000, or 16 percent, which also indicates growth, Wilkson said; and an insurance tax premium increase of $102,000.

            •Expenditures increased by $1.8 million, or 6 percent, over last fiscal year, which Wilkson noted is less than revenue growth of 17 percent. Expenditures were below final budget by $2.7 million including: salaries and wages, $446,000 under planned budgeted amounts; capital outlay costs were $309,000 under budget due to less being spent on purchases related to the recycling center.

SPLOST

            •The county collected $6.3 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) in 2020.

            •$6.9 million in SPLOST revenue was spent on various projects, mostly for road improvements and public safety.

Enterprise Funds, Water and Airport (separate from general fund)

            •Water – Long-term debt is $6.4 million, including $4.7 million in bonds for waterline construction/acquisition (interest rate of 2.35 percent/matures in 2029), and $1.6 million in GEFA notes for water treatment plant/ground storage tank/water rights (interest rate 1.89-2.35 percent/matures 20 years after construction is completed)

            •Airport – Long-term debt of $4.1 million including $2.9 million in bonds for airport taxiway construction (variable interest rate of 3.25 percent/matures 2029), and aircraft hangar construction (interest rate 5 percent/matures 2035).

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