Thursday, December 1, 2016
Odds and ends
The Goochland County Board of Supervisors met in a special called session on November 29 to approve the certified annual financial report (CAFR) for fiscal year 2016, which ended on June 30, and tend to a few other matters.
Each year Goochland County retains the services of outside accountant firm, currently PBMares, to take a detailed look at its books and how it handles finances and prepare the CAFR. For the past few years, the county has gotten high marks and almost clean reports, yet remains in the “at risk category” it landed in when the county treasurer was convicted of embezzlement in 2011.
The 2016 CAFR was presented to and approved by the supervisors on November 29 to enable filing of Goochland’s CAFR with the state by a November 30 deadline.
PBMares principal Mike Garber said it is unusual for a governing board to hold a special meeting to approve a CAFR by the filing deadline. Most jurisdictions, he said, file their CAFRs by November 30 and approve them at their next regularly scheduled meeting.
The audit committee, whose members include representatives from the county and school division, met with Garber for an informal review of the 2016 CAFR before the meeting. Supervisor Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2 chairs the audit committee. Supervisors Susan Lascolette, District 1, and Ken Peterson, District 5 are also on the committee.
The only fly in the ointment, really a metaphorical gnat, is a repeat of last year’s issue with the Department of Social Service failing to fully recertify all Medicaid recipients in a timely manner.
As explained by Kimberly Jefferson, DSS director, the fault lies in the mandated use of state computer systems that are often down or have excruciatingly slow response times. According to the CAFR, available in its entirety under the financial services tab on the county website goochland.va.us, the turnover rate for trained benefit specialists who perform these recertifications is very high due to demands of the job and salary scales. This is a phenomenon that plagues other jurisdictions, and was cited in a recent JLARC report.
Hiring additional personnel, including experienced retirees on a part-time basis, and use of mandatory overtime has addressed the problem. The state recently added other SS programs to this cumbersome system, which exacerbated the problem for many localities.
Jefferson said that her staff has used creative strategies, including working early in the day and on holidays and weekends when the state computer system responds more quickly, to catch up, and, hopefully, remain in compliance.
Another minor ripple, which Garber said was easily corrected by a journal entry, involved about 17 checks written near the end of the 2016 year, which were erroneously posted to the 2017 year. Additional internal controls were put in place to ensure that this does not happen again.
Please look at the CAFR and try to understand how are tax dollars are used.
The supervisors also reviewed the calendar for the FY2018 budget process, which has already begun.
Next year, County Administrator John Budesky will present his recommended budget on February 21. In following weeks, the public safety budget and school budget, which will be approved by the school board after its own budget process on February 14, will be presented to the supervisors. Other departments will make their budget presentations in February and March to coincide with spring town hall meetings.
A public hearing on the proposed budget, which could be tweaked after all the presentations and hearings, and tax rate is scheduled for April 4. Adoption of the FY 2018 budget and setting of tax rates for calendar 2017 will occur on April 18.
This will streamline the budget process and eliminate many of the marathon budget workshops of the past. According to the document in the November 29 meeting packet, the supervisors established budget priorities in their “November 2 on 2” meetings with Budesky and staff.
The Board set a December 6 public hearing for an ordinance amendment regarding itinerant merchant license fees.
A bright red ribbon was cut to formally celebrate the completion of the new Department of Community Development space. Wasted hallway space was ingeniously converted into welcoming, attractive, efficient, and functional work areas. The project was overseen by DCD office manager Sara Worley and completed on time within budget.
The supervisors then went into closed session to discuss litigation concerning the issuance of a CUP to Bandit’s Ridge for an event venue with counsel and hear staff briefings on the matter.