Supervisors get troubling news about next fiscal year’s budget; must make deep cuts for FY2023-24

Published 5:34 pm Monday, August 14, 2023

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NATCHEZ — A $3 million discrepancy in reporting available cash at the beginning of this fiscal year leaves the Adams County Board of Supervisors facing significant cuts to balance next year’s budget.

Chuck Lambert, the consultant working with the board to draft the budget, reported Monday that erroneously reported interfund loan transfers created a false starting balance in the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget.

Supervisors thought the county began the current fiscal year with a cash balance of about $3.4 million; in reality, that balance was only $427,000.

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Lambert attributed much of the discrepancy to transfers from the general fund to other funds that were coded incorrectly as loans. In reality those transfers were payments to the funds.

“Over the last two fiscal years, there has been a lot of money moved here, there and yonder and I was having trouble keeping up,” Lambert told supervisors. “A lot of the transfers were reported as interfund loans, but you are not making an interfund loan from the general fund to the self-funded health insurance. That’s not an interfund loan because I don’t see how you are ever going to pay it back to the general fund because you don’t have another revenue source. But that’s the way they were coded.”

Supervisors contracted with Lambert, a former Pike County administrator and supervisor, to oversee the budgeting process, as the Adams County administrator position remains unfilled. Supervisors voted earlier this year not to renew the contract of Angie King, who was comptroller and then county administrator.

“The budget was a little more difficult than I thought,” Lambert told supervisors this morning. “I didn’t rely on last year’s budget to create the new one because I didn’t understand the flow of it.”

Lambert said he basically started fresh and aimed for expected revenues to equal expenses. He said the county has some difficult cuts to make in order to meet that budget.

“The budget reflects a beginning cash balance of $11,065,990. That sounds great until you look at it and see that almost $8 million is one-time money. It’s bond proceeds that are still out that will be spent this year,” he said. “That leaves you with a beginning balance across all operational funds of $3 million.”

He said he projects the county’s general fund – which is one of those operational funds – to have a projected balance at the end of this fiscal year of only $136,000.

“What I did was took the general fund balance as of May 31, added the revenues from June through September and subtracted the expenses from June to September and got that,” Lambert said. “I know y’all are wondering, $136,000, when the budget handout y’all got for this year’s budget had $3.4 million as the beginning cash balance in the general fund.

“Y’all actually started this fiscal year with $426,978.56 in the general fund. If I pull a cash balance report for the first of October 2022, that’s what you started with.”

Lambert adopted the basic premise of making revenues equal expenses, not counting on any cash balances in any fund.

“In doing that, I came up with a total budget of $38,589,519 in revenue and disbursements of $47,318,427 in expenses,” he said. “If I am trying to make revenues equal expenses, why do those two numbers not equal? It goes back to one-time money. If it’s cash and you are spending it, there’s not offsetting revenue. The difference is going to be close to that.”