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:
•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.
•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).