County ends year with $2.95M cash balance

Published 12:41 am Friday, October 9, 2015

NATCHEZ — Adams County ended its fiscal year with $2.95 million in positive cash balances.

Adams County Chancery Clerk Tommy O’Bierne said that’s the best cash balance on hand the county has ever had at the annual Sept. 30 close of the fiscal year.

But while county officials say that amount is noteworthy, they say it’ll go toward operating expenses during months when no revenue comes in.

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Board of Supervisors Vice President Mike Lazarus said having that kind of year-end balance helps avoid taking out a tax anticipation loan for basic operating expenses.

“I have always aimed to never do a tax anticipation loan,” he said. “There have been times we have had to skim, but it is a lot easier when you have money to work with.”

County Administrator Joe Murray said the end of the year, when no tax revenues are coming in, is always tight, and having a significant cash balance helps meet payroll and other needs as well has prepare for any unforeseen incidents that may arise.

“It is just like your house,” he said. “You just have to have some reserves for just in case. I am not a worst-case scenario guy, but I am — because things do happen.”

One big expense the county will have this fall will be the final payment to the contractor building the FEMA 361 shelter near Natchez High School. The final cost for that will be $600,000.

Even though the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the county for those costs, they have to be paid upfront by the county, Murray said.

“That comes out of your cash balances until you are reimbursed,” he said.

Having a bigger year-end balance also ultimately helps the county with its bond rating, Lazarus said.

“If we get ready to do another bond, I think we should try to improve our rating,” he said. “A percent (of interest) here or there on a 20-year bond is a lot of money to save the county.”

Murray said in addition to the cash balance, the county expects to receive between $300,000 and $400,000 in reimbursements from FEMA for work at the shelter the county has already been completed and paid for.