ALPENA - Smart spending and budget planning by the Alpena County Board of Commissioners and the county's department heads have led to a positive financial audit. As a result of being fiscally responsible, the county's total undesignated fund balance has risen to 31.8 percent, an increase of $349,201 over 2009. The final amount of unrestricted funds according to the audit report is $2,809,970.
Auditor Mark Sandula said there wasn't a single fund found to have a negative balance in 2010. He also said the county is making strides to pay off debt.
"You reduced your debt by about $323,000, and the county has pretty much got its debt paid down, and there is not too much left on the books," Sandula said. "The debt has been reduced to $1.3 million total, which is a pretty good place to be."
The county has a policy in place that mandates the commissioners to keep its fund balance from exceeding 24.97 percent, so the money that makes up the extra 6.4 percent can be put away for future purposes or repairs to county properties or used to supplement the general fund if need be.
Commissioner Gerald Fournier said he is pleased with the audit results and credits the department heads and their employees for helping the county be fiscally responsible. He also said with the loss of revenue sharing from the state, things will be more tight down the road.
"We have policies in place, and the department heads follow them," Fournier said. "We ask them to hold off major purchases until after we get our summer tax revenue, because we really don't have a large source of income before them. I hope that we can sustain these results, but there are still a lot of unknowns with state revenue, so we will have to continue to keep a close eye on the budget and on the spending until we know exactly where we are at."
Sandula said Northern Lights Arena ended 2010 with a fund balance of $157,562 of which $88,000 was in the undesignated spendable fund. There also was $69,000 being reserved. He said there were several new funds the county opened. One was for recycling with $147,950 collected from the local surcharge. The new Veterans Affairs activities fund had $118,000 from the millage and the youth and recreation fund, which is millage money, had $473,000.
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Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689.