County receives 'gold standard' audit report

CENTREVILLE — St. Joseph County received a positive audit report from the 2021 fiscal year during a presentation at Tuesday’s St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Joe Vierling of Gabridge and Company, the county’s auditors, said the county presented financial statements “fairly” and gave what is called a “clean opinion,” the highest opinion an auditor can give during an audit.

“This is the gold standard of an opinion we can provide on your financial statements,” Vierling said.

Financially, the county’s net position increased in 2021 by about $3.1 million, with revenues of $29,043,733 and expenses of $25,944,497. The net position is what Vierling referred to as “net income,” which means the county is operating “at a sustainable level.”

“If a reader of the statements sees your Dec. 31, 2021 audit report and they ask the question, ‘is the county better off at Dec. 31, 2021 compared to the previous year,’ the answer is yes, by about $3.1 million,” Vierling said. “It’s a nice accomplishment given the COVID uncertainties over the past couple of years.”

In terms of all of the county’s governmental funds, which includes the general fund, Central Dispatch Fund, the Commission on Aging and other Governmental Funds, the total fund balance for the county came out to $11,787,765, an increase of about $1.6 million, with the unassigned fund balance available for the county to spend at $4,224,947, or 22.8 percent of the general fund expenditures and transfers out.

“It’s a very healthy, very stable unassigned fund balance as of Dec. 31,” Vierling said.

In the county’s general fund alone, there was a net loss in fund balance of $113,231 for the 2021 fiscal year, with $18,198,305 in revenues and, after other financial uses for the fund balance throughout the year, $18,311,536. Prior to those uses, expenditures for the county were $16,554,850.

However, the Central Dispatch Fund had a net gain of $632,880 in its fund balance, the COA had a net gain of $440,813, and the other funds had a net gain of $634,255 to bring the total number to that $1.6 million increase in fund balance overall.

Vierling also noted there were no findings in the report with regards to compliance.

Following the report, Fourth District Commissioner Dan Czajkowski commented favorably on the county’s financial position and the overall growth of the county’s fund balance.

“We have been in the past spending into our fund balance. In other words, savings. If that had continued, we would not be in the position we are in today,” Czajkowski said.

Commission chair Kathy Pangle thanked the county’s staff for their hard work with getting things around for the audit.

“I’d like to thank this board and the staff for all their hard work and for being fiscally responsible with St. Joseph County,” Pangle said. “I’m very happy to see this.”

In other business…

  • Commissioners approved a five-year contract between the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department and White Pigeon Community Schools to place a school resource officer from the sheriff’s department in schools in the district. The officer would work in the schools for nine months, with the other three months of the year being spent with the county’s Parks and Recreation department for patrol.
  • Commissioners approved a resolution opposing a series of bills in the state legislature, House Bills 4729, 4730, 4731, and 4732, that would provide for-profit corporations, such as Zillow, which was specifically pointed out in the resolution, copies of any official records maintained at county register of deeds and treasury offices at a “significant discount” or “free of charge.”
  • Commissioners approved the re-appointments of George Letts, Jon Withers, Britt Buscher and Sarah Apwisch, and the new appointments of Phil Kline and Lorraine Bolley to the St. Joseph County Commission on Aging Board.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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