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Audit of Washington Co. finances finds 'no issues'

November 18, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County received a clean bill of financial health Tuesday when the county's audited financial statement for fiscal 2008 was presented to the County Commissioners.

The annual audit for the fiscal year that ended June 30 was done by SB & Company LLC of Hunt Valley, Md.

It found that the county's financial practices are sound and turned up no alarms or errors, said William Seymour, an accountant with SB & Company.

"Everything was in line with what we were expecting," Seymour said. "There were really no issues."

Total general fund revenue was $204.4 million in fiscal 2008, up from $197.4 in fiscal 2007.

Total general fund expenses were $170.7 million in fiscal 2008. Of that, $96.6 million went to education, $22.2 million went to general government, $26.9 million to public safety and $10.1 million to debt service.

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Washington County is in better shape than some other jurisdictions in Maryland that are dealing with falling tax revenue and a federal mandate to show how they will fund pensions and retirement benefits in the future, said Graylin Smith, an accountant with SB & Company LLC.

"That's a huge liability for some jurisdictions," Smith said. "Governments have to deal with that now when the economy is not the best, which makes it more difficult. (Washington County) has dealt with that issue, so in that respect, you are ahead of a lot of governments."

Washington County Administrator Gregory B. Murray attributed the county's relative financial health to its "history of conservative budgeting," which he said prevented the county from plugging extra revenue into baseline expenses.

The county's assets, including investments, property and money in special funds, exceeded $930.9 million at the end of fiscal 2008.

Total liabilities, including long-term bonds, deferred revenue and other costs such as closure of the landfill, totaled $265.3 million, leaving $665.5 million in total net assets.

This was the first year of SB & Company LLC's contract to audit the county's finances.

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