County Finance Department Wins Award, Praise

SNOW HILL — Good-tidings and cheer came early for the Worcester County Commissioners when they learned Monday that they had an award winning Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

This years’ CAFR for Worcester received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association. It also revealed that the county is doing better fiscally than anticipated.

“Income tax is a little bit better than expected,” said Commissioner Virgil Shockley.

Revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30 exceeded expenditures by $5,790,198 and the commission was able to maintain a reserve fund at least equal to 10 percent of budgeted annual General Fund expenditures, according to the report. Besides the unexpected boost from income tax referenced by Shockley, the report attributes Worcester’s success to “stronger than estimated property, recordation and transfer tax collections as well as reduced spending by the county.”

Chief Administrative Officer Gerald Mason pointed to the report as the biggest indicator of governmental transparency the public could want. Chris Hall, a Certified Public Accountant with TGM Group, agreed.

“This is about as transparent as you can get,” he said.

Hall was on hand Monday to review the report with the commissioners and complimented the group for strategies like avoiding debt by usually paying for projects as they progress.

“Pay as you go has been very prudent over the years to us,” he said. “If nothing else, [the report] is good news.”

After the commission was done reviewing the report, it took a moment to congratulate Finance Officer Harold Higgins and his team for not only bringing them good news, but constructing the report so thoroughly it received an award from a nationally recognized association.

Shockley asserted that Worcester has “not one of the best, but probably the best” finance departments in the state.

Commission President Bud Church told Higgins he was impressed by the level of detail and effort invested in the report.

“I’m ashamed to admit that I have trouble balancing my checkbook,” said Church.

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