This Week in Lincoln County – March 20, 2018

Today we kicked off our celebration of Lincoln County’s 200th birthday. Keep an eye on the website, Journal, etc. for information regarding upcoming activities leading up to the official date of our founding, December 14.

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• This week I want to shift the focus from road and bridge activities to some of the financial workings of the County. Within the Treasury, there are over 60 individual funds, each with its own specific purpose, but the day to day operation occurs largely in the “Big 5”: General Revenue; Road and Bridge; Law Enforcement Trust; Assessment; and the 911 Fund. When I took office in 2011, only 2 of these funds maintained a reserve balance (GR and Road and Bridge) while the other 3 carried little or no balance and were dependent upon a sizable subsidy from GR to operate every year. At the beginning of the 2018 Fiscal Year, I am happy to report that all of the “Big 5” accounts reflected a reserve balance and only Law Enforcement and 911 will receive a modest transfer from GR, amounting to a fraction of what used to be required. I cannot state emphatically enough that this was accomplished through a TEAM effort and a dedication to fiscal responsibility. Looking at our overall financial health, a rule of thumb in County government is that a healthy reserve balance should be 15-20% of the annual budget. The 2018 budget of $28,166,432.33 is supported by a total reserve balance, as of today, of $10,966,063.09, or 38.9%.
• Speaking of the “Big 5,” it is important to note that each fund has a very specific purpose for which it is to be used, and there are strict limitations on the movement of money between funds. It has been suggested that projects from one fund should be cancelled and the funding used to support something done under another fund. While folks may be able to develop their own rationale for such things, the statutes simply do not allow this and for good reason. For instance, money raised for Law Enforcement needs to be spent on Law Enforcement, and road taxes need to be used to build/maintain roads and bridges. Anything contrary to this would be a breach of our fiduciary duty.
• Our Assessor Kevin Bishop provided some interesting statistics regarding new home construction dating back to 2004. During this time period, 2006 was the highest with 844 new homes constructed. Conversely, the lowest year was 2013 with just 81. Since the low point, home construction has rebounded at a rate of 360% with 373 new homes built in 2017. From 2016 to 2017, the average market value of each new home jumped 21.8% to $145,745, so as you can see, the trends are positive.

That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…

Dan Colbert
Presiding Commissioner

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