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County net finances down $20 million
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Nov 19, 2013 | 886 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo -- Public safety was Washoe County's top expenditure in the fiscal year of 2012/13 totaling more than $138 million for services like the Sheriff's Office. The Board of County Commissioners continue to make public safety its top priority.
Tribune file photo -- Public safety was Washoe County's top expenditure in the fiscal year of 2012/13 totaling more than $138 million for services like the Sheriff's Office. The Board of County Commissioners continue to make public safety its top priority.
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Washoe County released its Comprehensive and Popular Annual Financial reports Tuesday, dissecting the county’s financial condition, revenues and expenditures and overall budget report for the fiscal year of 2012/13, which ended June 30.

Cynthia Washburn, acting finance director for Washoe County, said the fiscal year was transitional, from recession to economic improvement, and proved so as the county had no budget or service level reductions for the first time since 2008.

The fiscal year from July 1 to June 30 showed Washoe County’s net position at about $970 million, $20 million less than a year ago, comprised of investment of capital assets and restricted and unrestricted resources. The $20 million drop was attributed to lower assessed property value taxes, but the county managed to maintain 3.5 times the cash and investments needed to meet obligations due during the next year.

Capital assets, totaling more than $755 million, include roads, water and sewer lines, libraries, senior centers, parks, right-of-way for utility lines, land improvements, technology and more.

Restricted resources totaled nearly $111 million in 2013 and covers those resources that can only be used for specific purposes (grants, voter-approved taxes, donations, etc.). Unrestricted resources totaled about $103 million and are used by the county for “business activities,” such as water utilities to golf courses, that are generally unavailable for use in governmental activities.

The General Fund budget for the current fiscal year of 2013/14 sits at $287 million, an increase of $11.9 million for heightened personnel costs and restricted funds for stabilization, according to the report.

Expenditures

Washburn said she recommended governmental expenditures for the current fiscal year of 2013/14, totaling $24.7 million, 5.3 percent less than the previous year.

Government-wide expenditures totaled $468.4 million in 2013 down more than $79 million from 2012. Public safety outpaced all expenditures, accounting for a little more than $138 million in 2013 followed by general government services (management and support to other services of the county) at about $91 million.

Public safety and judicial services both saw increases from 2012 while general government services were down more than $16 million. Welfare services, described in the report as indigent and social services for adults and children, decreased slightly but remained the third-largest expenditure of the year at more than $66 million.

The General Fund, which accounts for 55 percent of total governmental service spending, is comprised mostly by ad valorem (assessed property values) and consolidated (sales in Washoe County) tax revenues. General Fund expenditures in 2013 totaled about $252 million with the biggest portion going to public safety. General government was the second-highest expenditure, accounting for more than $61 million of the total.

The adopted 2014 General Fund budget, according to the report, shows total expenditures increasing to more than $266 million with public works seeing the biggest increase, about $12 million, due to “an internal reorganization that moved facilities and certain other expenses from the General government function.”

Revenues

Washoe County revenues totaled $447.9 million down $20.7 million from 2012 due to the decrease in real property value of homes. Ad valorem taxes dropped 3 percent from 2012, bringing in $167.2 million, the driving force behind the county’s $447.9 million in revenue for 2013. Some service charges increased in Washoe County, as did the volume of activity, allowing county revenues to jump slightly and total $101.8 million.

The biggest hit to the county’s revenue stream was in operating and capital programs, which fell from about $91 million to about $75 million. Washburn said the revenue comes from grants, donations and other contributions and said $35.5 million (46 percent) go to Washoe County welfare programs.

General fund revenues were up for Washoe County after bringing in about $272 million, a $7 million jump. Consolidated taxes from sales in Washoe County rose nearly $5 million and Washburn said the revenue source, along with ad valorem taxes, is expected to improve in 2014 with the recovering economy. The financial report projects at least $1 million more for both revenue sources in 2014 and projects the total revenue to be $276.8 million.

To read the full Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, visit www.washoecounty.us/finance/CAFR2013.htm.
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