Sussex County finances in positive territory, annual financial report shows

GEORGETOWN – Global markets may be on a roller-coaster ride to start 2016, but Sussex County taxpayers can take comfort in this much – the county’s finances remain on firm footing for another year in a row, a new financial report shows.

At its Jan. 26 meeting, Sussex County Council received the Audited Financial Statements for Fiscal Year 2015.

The report was audited by BDO USA, LLP, a firm of licensed certified public accountants, which released an unqualified opinion noting the financial statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position” of Sussex County as of June 30, 2015. The financial report is presented annually to detail the county government’s finances for the previous fiscal year.

For Fiscal Year 2015, Sussex County ended the fiscal year overall with $4,009,295 in revenues over expenditures, giving the county its sixth year in a row with a financial gain. The boost was fueled by an increase of approximately $1.5 million in building-related revenue and an uptick in realty transfer tax revenues, as well as a sharp drop in capital spending as several county construction projects were completed during the past year. The county will set aside the added revenue in the county’s capital fund for future projects.

Meantime, while the overall revenue number was up, the county’s operating, or general fund, portion of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget will record a loss of $402,905. That’s the result of the county transferring $6.2 million for future capital projects.

Gina Jennings

GINA JENNINGS

“This financial report shows the county’s commitment to its citizens to stay financially strong,” Sussex County Finance Director Gina A. Jennings said. “Placing an additional $6 million in the funds to support future capital projects is an investment in quality services and infrastructure without adding debt to the taxpayers.”

Ms. Jennings said despite the loss on the operating side of the budget, the county’s financial picture for the past year is healthy. That’s expected to be the case in the months ahead as the local economy, particularly in the building sector, continues to recover from the historic financial downturn in 2008.

The realty transfer tax, the 3 percent levy on all property sales, remains one of the county’s most significant revenue streams. The tax resulted in $22.2 million in Fiscal Year 2015. That was $1.3 million above the previous year. The tax is again budgeted to generate at least $16 million in Fiscal Year 2016.

mike vincent

MICHAEL VINCENT

Sussex County Council President Michael H. Vincent praised the county’s financial team for helping the county earn another year of high marks.

“We’re in this fortunate position again because of sound fiscal management and prudent decisions, and we have Ms. Jennings and our financial team to thank for their diligent work and guidance,” Mr. Vincent said. “The county council and the public appreciate very much that the taxpayers’ dollars have been managed appropriately and used wisely for another budget year.”

Sussex County has submitted the Fiscal Year 2015 financial report to the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for consideration of its Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting award. The county has received the award the past 13 years. Ms. Jennings said she is optimistic the County will receive the same recognition for the Fiscal Year 2015 report.

The complete report and other information will be available on the county’s website at www.sussexcountyde.gov/comprehensive-annual-financial-reports.

The Sussex County Post delivers news from Georgetown and southern Delaware. Follow @SussexPost on Twitter.

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