Gonzales County Receives Clean Audit Report for 2020-21

By LEW K COHN, Inquirer Editor

Gonzales County received a “clean” unqualified opinion on its annual audit for the 2020-21 fiscal year at the Monday, March 28, court of commissioners meeting.

“Our job is to test the numbers to make sure that the annual report you give to the public contains accurate numbers,” said Phil Vaughan of Universal City-based Armstrong, Vaughan and Associates, the independent audit firm of the county. “We gave you an unqualified opinion, that’s what you want.

“We’re also looking into any internal control issues you may have or any compliance issues you may be experiencing and we’ve had none.”

Vaughan said they had questions about the county’s revolving loan fund, which provided loans to local businesses on favorable terms (monthly principal repayment plus interest rate between 1 and 1.25%) for stimulate community development. Of the two loans made by the fund, one is currently in arrears, Vaughan said.

“There is a significant amount of money currently available in the fund balance, almost $400,000, which has sat idle and we haven’t been able to get our hands on anything that tells us what the source is. of that money and what you can do with it,” Vaughan said.

Vaughan then discussed the fiscal year 2021 budgets for Road and Bridge (R&B) and the General Fund. He noted that all four road and bridge constituencies were “under budget” for the year ending September 30, 2021.

“Revenues went up a bit because you put more property taxes into it last year,” Vaughan said. “The only ward that ended up having its fund balance reduced was Ward 3 and that was the ward that had the lowest property taxes allocated to it, so that makes sense.

“You added $1.2 million to the fund balance in R&B, which brought you to almost $9.5 million in fund balance, which equals two years (24 months) of your fund costs. exploitation, which is pretty healthy.”

Vaughan said general fund revenue was down for 2021, but noted that it was “related to property taxes that you allocated more to roads and bridges, so you had a decrease projected there.

“You also had your sales tax reduced because you had to repay a pretty good amount for some sort of overpayment to the Comptroller’s Office, which hurt you last year,” he said. he declares. “On the expense side, you’re up 1.6% from the previous year, which is a pretty marginal increase in your overall expenses, and if you recall, you’ve granted a payroll increase. 50 cents to everyone.

“By my calculations, that’s an increase of about 2%, which is about the majority of the increase. All departments were under budget for the year.

Vaughan said the county’s general fund balance decreased by about $158,000 in 2021, leaving a general fund balance of about $8.3 million.

“That was better than what you had planned for your general fund balance for 2022,” Vaughan said. “It’s about eight months of running your general fund. Your 2022 budget calls for taking $1.6 million from that general fund balance, which will still leave you with about $6.6 million, or about six and a half months.

“If it all comes to fruition, you’ll still have a pretty good reserve, but you’re getting to the point where you might not want to go much lower. When you’re budgeting for 2023, you might want to keep that in mind. spirit.

Vaughan said that number does not include money the county will receive under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to compensate for lost funds during the pandemic, which he said “includes $4 million additional”.

In another action, the court approved a pair of proclamations declaring April 2022 Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month and National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in Gonzales County.

In 2021, 765 children were reported to have been victims of neglect or abuse in Gonzales County, according to a proclamation.

Meanwhile, according to the other, two out of five women and one out of five men in Texas are victims of sexual assault. In 2021, the Guadalupe Valley Family Violence Shelter Inc. provided 1,326 separate services to 82 survivors of sexual violence. The shelter is also working with Gonzales County Assistant District Attorney Keri Miller and the newly formed Sexual Assault Response Team to help local victims.

In April, Independence Square will be lit up in teal to observe National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, a representative from the shelter said.

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