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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Audit Finds County Is In Good Financial Condition

Issue Date: August 30, 2019

"It has always been good working with Marinette County....You have a good financial department and a good management team," Auditor Scott Sternhagen told Marinette County Board at the start of his report on the 2018 audit at the Tuesday, Aug. 27 meeting.

There were no findings or problems with financial statements, "and for a county your size that is a good thing," Sternhagen said.

The audit found Marinette County in a good financial position. The total General Fund balance grew from $28,867,705 in 2017 to $29,221,399 in 2018, a $353,000 increase. Total governmental fund balances grew from $34,885,567 to $35,408,500. There was a 38 percent growth in the General Fund unassigned valance, which he termed very good. The board is on track toward reducing debt, and the debt service fund balance increased from $628,112 to $834,881 to be used for future debt retirement.

The capital projects fund is down, with money being spent on projects for which the county borrowed in 2016, and $600,000 was left to spend down in 2018.

Sternhagen termed the $2.6 million in past due property taxes is "a large amount."

Highway expenditures were up, probably due to winter expenditures last year. There was $1.2 million spent on road construction.

The auditors look at federal and state grants from a compliance standpoint. Sternhagen said they found only a small issue with use of Visa gift cards in the Children's Long-Term Support Waiver program for parents or guardians to buy necessary nutritional itms that the child needed. While the County required receipts for verification purposes the method increases the risk of potential unallowable cost. Action has been taken by management to improve the process and eliminate use of the cards, according to the management letter.

The Health and Human Services Department had ended 2017 with a fund deficit of $455,074, and that was changed to a balance of $72,286 balance by transferring in $742,918 from taxpayer funds. Sternhagen said it is county policy to keep the fund balance low and then transfer in money from the General Fund if needed. Overall the Health and Human Services Department had $215,558 more in expenses than it had in revenues in 2018. Of the total revenues of $13,527,628, $3,741,457 was from the local property tax levy and the remainder from other sources, including state and federal programs and payments and other collections from clients.

Supervisor Bonnie Popp questioned the accuracy of a statement in the main audit valuing all county-owned land at $5.3 million. Sternhagen explained that is not the present value but is based on cost when it was acquired. Administrator John LeFebvre explained the county owns over 235,000 acres, but much of it was acquired in government plots and through tax deed at no cost to the county.

At the start of his report to the board LeFebvre reported the budget process for the 2020 budget is well underway, and includes money to pay off $6.8 million of debt when the bonds come due in 2020. The budget provides for paying $3.8 million more for debt retirement than the approximately $3 million required on the debt reduction schedule.


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