finished fiscal year
in the black -- Or did it?
to County Executive Paul Clark, county government wrapped up the
past fiscal year with black ink. But, depending upon how you
read it, the monthly general fund cash flow report presented to
County Council’s finance committee had a tinge of red ink.
release issued on Aug. 23 by Clark’s communications director Jim
Grant said, “Pre-audited figures show the county ending the
fiscal year with $1.3 million in net income.” A more detailed
presentation to the Council committee the same day by acting
chief financial officer Ed Milowicki had general fund
expenditures exceeding revenue by $700,000. But, according to
Milowicki that was
It's not every
session that County Council's finance committee
receives earth-shaking news. But it literally
happened this time.
presentation on fiscal 2011 budget results the
eighth-floor conference room vibrated noticeable for
a minute or so, feeling effects of the earthquake in
Virginia that rattled most of the East Coast. That
was followed by the sounding of the emergency alarm
and orders to evacuate the Redding Building.
attenders joined men and women from other city and
county government offices walking calmly and orderly
down the stairwell and exiting onto French Street.
The evacuation lasted about 20 minutes while
officers of the Wilmington Fire Department inspected
It remains to
be seen whether financial officer Ed Milowicki will
ever be able to top that reaction in future
making mandated transfers of $5.5 million to the real estate tax
stabilization fund and the so-called ‘rainy-day fund’ to meet
unexpected emergencies. For accounting purposes, the
transfers are listed as expenditures.
release went on to say that county government got through the
past year “without the expected use of budgeted reserves of $7
million.” The cash flow report, however, showed a budget reserve
going into the present fiscal year of $49.3 million, down from
$50 million at the start of fiscal 2011.
A year ago,
during the administration of former Executive Chris Coons, the
finance department reported that county government had, for the
first time in several fiscal years, not experienced a deficit.
The cash flow report published then showed revenue exceeding
expenditures by $500,000. That was after transfers of $7
million. The budget reserve – previously referred to as the
property tax stabilization fund – reportedly grew during fiscal
2010 to $48.9 million from $48.4 million. Delaforum was not able
to account for the $1.1 million discrepancy in the size of the
reserve as stated in the two reports.
presentation to Council showed an anticipated cumulative budget
shortfall of $51.1 million over the next five fiscal years if
there are no significant changes in county revenue or spending
trends. The projected five-year shortfall a year ago was $76.9
million. The current report has the budget reserve being
exhausted shortly after the end of fiscal 2016. A year ago it
was expected to last until just after fiscal 2013.
told Council that higher-than-expected revenue as a result of
real estate transfer tax generated by some large non-residential
transactions and fees from sheriff sales of foreclosed
properties coupled with continued cost-cutting and operating
efficiency in county departments accounted for the somewhat
improved financial situation. But he cautioned against undue
optimism in light of continuing problematic local and national
cash flow report pertaining to the sanitary sewer fund showed
revenue exceeding expenditures by $1.8 million after a transfer
to reserves of $700,000. That was marginally better than the
$1.7 million projected a year ago. The sewer fund is accounted
differently from the general operating fund because it is run as
a utility business rather than being predominantly tax