The 2008 Barrow County audit released last week paints a troubling picture of the state of the county’s finances.
The county spent more than it took in by a significant amount in FY2008, eroding the county’s reserves. Revenues were down and spending was up, a situation that cannot be sustained over the long term.
Even more troubling, however, is that in crafting the current FY2009 budget last fall, the county was sloppy in not adjusting its projections. As commissioner Steve Worley points out, why did the county increase spending in FY2009 when it knew revenues were dropping?
And consider this troubling point: Barrow ended its fiscal year in September, before the worst of the economic downturn had begun. That suggests the FY2009 budget may be significantly off-target.
Worley has asked for a six-month report on where the county stands in its FY2009 budget, a report that is due this week. If that report indicates continued financial problems, county leaders will need to effectively rewrite the county’s budget for the remainder of the year.
To an extent, that is already happening. The recent salary cuts and layoffs were efforts to slow the county’s spending in light of the downturn.
Still, a thorough review of every line in the county budget should be done if the six-month report shows a further erosion of income along with rising expenses.
Barrow County isn’t totally broke — yet. But based on the 2008 audit, the trend isn’t promising.
A major mid-year county budget adjustment may be needed.
I guess this explains why the previous administration was kicked out of office. And to think they wanted to build a $20MM Convention Center. Telling many us we did not understand how local government works. Guess they found out something....how local citizens vote!