When it comes to its finances, Redwood County is in very good shape.
The Redwood County Board of Commissioners learned that, with the data to back it up, at its Sept. 5 meeting when Jean Price, Redwood County auditor-treasurer, presented the 2016 audit.
Overall, according to the audit, the county’s net position from 2015 to 2016 increased by 2.6 percent, said Price.
The net position, which is a reflection of the overall financial picture of the county, was $96,570,906 in 2015 and has increased to $99,053,908 in 2016. The county has consistently seen an increase in its net position over the past severals years with increases going back to at least 2013.
Price said the increase is in part due to increased investments in infrastructure, adding the county has strong total capital assets. The net total capital assets has also been on the rise in recent years, as the county saw net total capital assets of just under $70 million in 2012, with steady growth over the next few years.
In 2016, the net total capital assets is $85,678,178. In 2015, the net total capital assets were $83,196,233.
The audit also indicated that the total long-term liabilities have also been on the rise in recent years, with total long-term liabilities of $18,607, 831, which is an increase from $13,023,911 in 2015. Price indicated the sharp rise is primarily due to what is known as net pension liability.
According to Price, it was in 2015 when the county began to be required to list net pension liability in its total long-term liabilities. That, she said, includes PERA.
“While we are required to put them on our books now, it is not really a liability to the county,” explained Price.
Of the more than $5 million increase in long-term liabilities in 2016, more than $4 million is in net pension liability.
Other categories included in long-term liabilities are compensated absences, loans payable, bonds and notes payable, the net OPEB (other post-employment benefits) and leases payable.
The county currently has $8,119,643 in bonds and notes payable. That amount in-creased, said Price, as a result of the refunding bond the county board approved. When that refunding bond is paid off in 2019 that amount should go down significantly. In 2016, the county saw governmental fund revenues of $22,877,318, with expenditures of $22,888,377.
The primary source of revenue is taxes, said Price, as it collected $10,913,743 in 2016. Its next highest category is intergovernmental revenue, which includes everything from payments and reimbursements for services to state and federal grants. When it comes to expenses, the highest amount is spent in the highways and streets category, with $9,035,561 spent in 2016.
For the county, the overall picture also includes a very healthy fund balance, as the county currently has a total overall fund balance of $24,635,462. That includes both the restricted and unrestricted reserves on the books, said Price.
Price told the commissioners, a good rule of thumb is to have at least five months of fund balance on hand at all times, especially early in the year prior to the first collection of taxes. As of the end of 2016, the general fund balance has more than 14 months worth of money available.
That, added, Price, indicates that the county is very fiscally healthy right now.
When it comes to the unrestricted fund balance, Price said the county is in the ballpark of where it needs to be to cover itself until those first levy dollars start coming in to the county. Regarding all government funds the unrestricted fund balance, which is $15,802,296 is about 8.3 months of the total expenditures.
As of the end of 2016, the county has $5,986,893 in its restricted fund balance, which is funding that is specifically dedicated funding that can only be spent in those specific areas. The unrestricted fund balance includes $1,395,985 in committed funds, $11,057,484 in assigned funds and $3,348,827 in unassigned funds.
The county board approved the 2016 audit as presented.