County audit: Reserves drop slightly but still high

JoAnn Kalenak, DCCR Senior Blogger — Contract auditor Pete Blair presented Delta County Commissioners his 2020 audit of county finances earlier this week. In the snapshot report, Blair told Commissioners that the county had ended 2020 with $19.3 million in total reserves. Of this amount, only $3.3 million is restricted. The remaining $16 million, while technically slated for various funds, can be reallocated with a budget amendment and used at the discretion of the Commissioners.

This reserve fund represents a slight decrease from 2019’s ending balance of $20.4 million but still a healthy 41% of the overall budget.

While the total fund balance dropped, the General Fund, which is the county’s main operating account, saw an increase of $600,000 mostly due to increased sales tax revenue. In 2019, the General Fund saw $3 million in sales tax revenue and in 2020, that increased to $3.6 million. It’s important to note that the Back the Badge sales tax increase did not take effect until January 1, 2021 and revenues won’t be included until the next audit.

County policy is to keep the General Fund reserve at around 25% of operating expenditures. Ending year 2020, the balance in this primary operating fund was $6.3 million. This amount represents 47% of operating expenses — 22% over the reserve target.

Next on the fiscal timeline is the development of the proposed 2022 budget, which by state statute should be submitted to County Commissioners prior to October 15 and legally adopted by Dec. 31, 2021.