CLEVELAND, Ga. – Clay Pilgrim of the accounting firm of Rushton Company presented a positive annual audit report to the White County Board of Commissioners during their voting session Monday.
Pilgrim said the county is in a strong financial position. “Nothing came to our attention to prevent us from issuing an unmodified or clean opinion on the financial statement for White County,” he said.
The county’s total net position is $51,328,861, an increase of $1,942,074 from the previous year. General fund revenue increased $1,630,497 while expenditures increased by $935,627. The unassigned fund balance is $3,946,540 which represents about 2.7 months of operating expenses.
Commissioner Terry Goodger said, “The county has come up $11 million in the last five years. That really shows a tremendous amount of growth in the county.”
Kevin Hamby followed Pilgrim’s report with more good financial news about the special purpose local option sales tax.
Commissioners then took time out to recognize two important groups during the meeting – farmers and public safety workers.
“Farming is still the No. 1 economic engine for White County,” Chairman Travis Turner said “It provides food for out tables, more than we realize.” Turner then read a proclamation declaring Nov. 21-29 Farm City Week in White County.
Commissioners then heard from Public Safety Director David Murphy, who paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of the men and women under his command.
Murphy said public safety workers respond to calls covering 242 square miles. “So far this year, they have responded to 1,968 calls, performed eight fire inspections, reviewed 187 pre-fire plans, provided fire prevention education to 4,709 students and community members. We have given away and installed 80 fire detection devices to our most vulnerable population.”
These things have been accomplished with only 12 career firefighters, 45 volunteers and three administrative personnel.
Murphy singled out the county fire chief for special recognition. “The leadership of this group came from Norman Alexander,” Murphy said. “He has served as fire chief and assistant fire chief since 2004. He has led these individuals from an all-volunteer to the combination department we have today. Under his leadership style and integrity he has moved this department forward into a position where the goals of protecting lives, property and the environment can be accomplished with excellence.”
Many of the members of his department — both career and volunteer — attended the meeting and Murphy said “I would like to publicly thank them for their service to White County and the diverse communities we serve today.”
The Board unanimously approved all consent agenda items, including a request by Truett McConnell University to authorize a revenue bond issuance through the White County Development Authority. The bond issue does not obligate White County taxpayers in any way, but will allow the university to refinance its existing debt at a more favorable interest rate.
Under New Business, the Board approved a request by Clyde Fleming for a conditional use permit for 2.77 acres located at 672 Foothills Drive in Cleveland to be placed in the county’s short-term rental program. The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Craig Bryant opposed.
The Board also approved two annexation requests. One is for property located at 1847 Hwy. 129 South to be annexed into the City of Cleveland. The other is for 4.55 acres located at 52 Comer Circle to be annexed into the City of Helen.
The Board also approved amendments to the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget and fiscal year 2019-2020 budget establishing a pooled account for jail telephone commissions.
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