Proposed budget amendment tabled

Published 12:31 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to table actions regarding an amendment and appropriation to the fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 Charlotte County Budget.

According to a public notice from the county, “The total amount of the proposed amendment is $2,191,350 for New Courthouse Capital Project. The New Courthouse Project Budget remains unchanged at $13.9 million.”

In a previous statement, Chairman of the Supervisors Gary Walker said the amendment is just a transfer of funds from the last fiscal year.

“The reason for this amendment is in the prior year, we had funds budgeted for construction projects that were not expended,” he said previously. “So, in order to pay those bills this year, we need to reappropriate those funds.”

Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni said, “At the (public) hearing, Mr. Terry Ramsey spoke about certain items and where we were not in compliance, and I had asked that before we were asked to vote on anything that we were given assurance by our administrator that the budget was in compliance with state law.”

During the hearing, Ramsey said while the borrowings for schools were anticipated during the FY 2018 budget formulation, there is no mention in the approved budget of borrowings, “and revenue for school capital projects is shown as a transfer from the general fund rather than as a borrowing.”

He said in light of this, “neither the county’s approved FY 2018 budget nor the proposed amendment disclose the required comparative information between FY 2016, 2017 and 2018; and the approved FY 2018 budget failed to disclose the anticipated $5 million borrowing for school capital projects.”

County Administrator R.B. Clark said the county has sought an opinion from a certified public accountant (CPA) at Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates concerning the legality, but an answer has not yet been received.

Drakes Branch Supervisor Garland H. Hamlett Jr. originally made a motion to appropriate the funds. However, a substitute motion was made by Phenix/Aspen Supervisor Donna Fore to table the decision until a response was received from the CPA to make a more informed decision.

“It’s in the process,” Clark said.

He said the intent of the amount of the reappropriated money is correct and within the original budget.

Fore said a decision cannot be made until there is knowledge of compliance with state law.

During the public hearing, Ramsey said the county’s approved FY 2018 budget does not include separate parallel columns to compare the previous and subsequent fiscal years. Only amounts shown for FY 2018 are included, he said.

“We only put on the internet that one column, which makes that machine print out zeros in the other column,” said Clark.

Clark said the document on the county’s website is not what the budget actually looks like. He said he is confident the CPA will say it is fine.