County gets clean audit

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Sumter County received a clean, unmodified audit Tuesday evening during its regular Council meeting.

Before the meeting, during Council’s Fiscal, Tax, and Property Committee meeting, Council members were briefed on the financial statement from Jennifer Miller, a partner with WebsterRogers LLP, the external auditing firm.

Miller thanked the Fiscal Affairs department for making her job smooth as she worked on the audit over the course of several months.

“The good news,” she said, is the summary of the firm’s opinion, which is unmodified. “It’s a clean opinion. That’s what you want to see, so that is good news.”

During Council’s regular meeting, Miller said she lives here and noted no errors were found with the information given to WebsterRogers.

On Wednesday morning, Finance Director Jamie Michaelson and County Administrator Gary Mixon delved further into the audit and noted the County’s net position of $80 million is fully consolidated on a full accrual basis. Of that, $76.5 million includes all fixed assets and debt for the governmental activities and $3.5 million for the water fund business type activities.

In looking at the General Fund – how the county operates on a day-to-day basis -- there’s a $13.9 million fund balance, of which $9.4 million is unassigned. Of that, $6.3 million is the County’s cash flow reserve, which has to be kept as per the County’s fund balance policy.

The total budget for the Fiscal Year was $52 million, with $2.1 million available for possible one-time future expenditures.

In looking at revenues and expenditures, the County’s budgetary general fund received 95 percent of the budget and spent 95 percent of the budget. The budgetary general fund balance increased by $200,000.

As for capital Penny for Progress projects for the year ended June 30, 2016, the County invested about $13 million in projects, combining the expenditures of Penny 1 and Penny 2.

“We strive for our County Government to be transparent, and that’s readily apparent if folks visit our website and view our financial statements under the Fiscal Affairs Department,” Mixon said.

Also during Tuesday evening’s regular council meeting, County Council heard first reading on a rezoning request to add residential care facilities as a permitted use to the Heavy Industrial Zoning District.

George McGregror, the City-County Planning Director, told Council the applicant owns residential property in an area zoned as Heavy Industrial. In looking at the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, residential development is not a permitted use in that zoning district, he said, as the Comp Plan prioritizes economic development and introducing residential uses could have a negative effect. He recommended no change to the ordinance in place.

Council Chairman James T. McCain Jr. said he drove out to the area in question and saw the area in question was residential. He wondered if that row of homes was grandfathered in.

McGregor said, no, but around 1999 during a rezoning, that area was identified and the homes were considered pre-existing to the action. Legally they were non-conforming, he said. McGregor pointed out that the request asks for the ordinance to be changed and wasn’t a site-specific request.

Councilman Charles Edens said back in 1999, when the zoning was introduced, there was Heavy Industrial on both sides.

“They were already existing,” he said.

The motion passed first reading.

McGregor also informed Council of a request to rezone 6 acres on Cody Road from Conservation Preservation to Agricultural Conservation to settle an estate issue. First reading was approved.

County Attorney Jonathan Bryan updated Council on second reading of an ordinance to authorize the sale of property on North Wise Drive under the auspice of ‘Project Volcano,’ an unnamed economic development project.

Council approved second reading.

Councilman Chris Sumpter II made a motion to approve changing a part-time position at Crystal Lake Golf Course as no requirement for additional funding was needed and it was approved.

A motion to change a part-time position in the Coroner’s office to full-time while eliminating another part-time position was approved.

Council also approved an expenditure to purchase and install high-quality and long-lasting safety netting at Patriot Park in anticipation of the upcoming Dixie Youth Softball Series. Old netting will be sent to Bobby Richardson Park.

Mixon also informed Council that County staff members were to meet with representative from the Department of Health and Environmental Control to hopefully get final approval to move forward with the Second Mill project. There have been numerous changes and adjustments, Mixon said, as per DHEC regulations.

Once the project gets underway, Mixon said it’s expected to be completed in 60 days.

Councilman Edens asked if final approval is given, is the County ready to get to work.

“We are ready to put out bids,” Mixon replied.

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