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December 3, 2013



Catawba County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2013, shows the County continued to deliver services in a prudent fiscal manner.

Paula Hodges, Partner with Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A., told the Catawba County Board of Commissioners at its December 2 meeting that “the County improved its financial position” as a result of its conservative approach to budgeting and spending.

Hodges told the Board that the County received a “clean” audit opinion for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, and that the firm was pleased with the County’s internal control structure and financial accountability throughout the year.

“There were no questioned costs as a result of the audit of the County’s programs, including those that involve the expenditure of Federal and State resources" Hodges concluded.

Rodney Miller, Catawba County’s Finance Director, discussed several aspects of the County’s financial report in his presentation to the Board, including the fact that most major revenue sources saw an uptick, perhaps signaling the beginnings of a modest economic recovery for the region.

“Local revenues continue to increase as property tax revenues saw a 3.33% increase and sales tax revenues increased by 0.9% from the year before,” Miller said. “In addition, building permit revenues increased by 15.4% on top of a double-digit increase in 2012.”

The increase in property tax revenues resulted from 3.0% growth in real and personal property. Property tax collection rates decreased slightly by 0.07%, following a decline of 0.35% for the previous year. The County’s tax rate of 53 cents per $100 valuation for the 2012-2013 fiscal year – the seventh lowest among North Carolina counties with a population of 100,000 or more – is one third of the State’s legal limit of $1.50.

On the expenditure side, County spending remained basically flat though County departments collectively spent less than was budgeted for Fiscal Year 2012-2013. In spite of this flat spending, the County continued to demonstrate a deep commitment to funding education, as well as increasing its investment in the delivery of public safety services.

When purely local funding is considered, Catawba County’s three public school systems and Catawba Valley Community College received the highest percentage of County funding, at 52%. Catawba County appropriated $39,695,975 for operating expenditures for the three school systems and CVCC, a 1.1% increase from the previous year. Public safety spending represented 19% of total expenditures, with investments being made in additional Sheriff’s Office staffing for Narcotics Investigators and Road Patrol deputies as well as the expansion of hours of service for an EMS crew in the Bandys area.
Public Health and Social Services expenditures represented 13% of total local funding. Local government expenditures for Public Health and Social Services declined by approximately 2.3% from Fiscal year 2011-2012, as services were shifted to other providers (such as Catawba Valley Medical Center) and state funding levels were reduced.

Catawba County has traditionally had a goal to keep two months worth of operating expenses in reserve, approximately 16%, in part because of cash flow issues, since property tax bills are sent to taxpayers in July but revenues are slow to come in as most taxpayers wait until near the January deadline to make payments. The reserve is also kept in case of emergency circumstances, and to insure adequate funds are available to meet urgent economic development opportunities that may arise during the course of the year.

The audit report showed the County exceeded this reserve requirement for fiscal year 2012-13, adding to the reserve, and now has approximately three months worth of operating expenses in reserve. Miller reported this was accomplished by the County continuing its conservative approach to managing County financial resources, including departmental under-spending of approved funds and planned revenues coming in higher than expected.

The County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report may be viewed online at while the Popular Annual Financial Report, which is designed to present highlights of the Annual Financial Report in a more concise format may be viewed online at