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'Another good audit,' sez Neffendorf

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Keith Neffendorf presented his annual "State of Bandera County's Money" address during the Thursday, March 12, meeting of commissioners court.
The accounting firm of Neffendorf, Knopp, Doss and Co., PC audited the county finances for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2014. Neffendorf praised the staff and department of Auditor Christina Moeller, in particular, and other departments in general for their assistance and cooperation in preparing the audit.
On a positive side, the audit revealed that the county's net position was $18,177,441 - a number Neffendorf described as "real good."
Last year, Bandera County also derived revenue of $379,000 by providing housing for prisoners from surrounding counties. This amount had increased 6.3 percent from the previous year. The county began offering this contract service in 2010.
However, earlier Sheriff Dan Butts had cautioned commissioners that due to other counties now constructing jails, the revenue from contract prisoners was likely to decrease in the future.
The unreserved fund balance in the General Fund is $6,148,000 or 72 percent of General Fund expenditures. "This amount is 47 percent higher than the guidelines recommended by commissioners court and the office of the Texas Comptroller," Neffendorf said.
In 2013-2014, the county's General Fund operations had a fund balance of $6,148,000, which represents 59 percent of total expenditures. "This percentage satisfies the 25 percent recommended by the state comptroller," Neffendorf told the court. A General Fund is defined as the primary day-to-day operating fund that finances services that include the courts and law enforcement.
Neffendorf characterized the 2013-2014 fund balance of $8,988,898 as "good." Also during that time, the county's revenues exceeded expenditures by $55,000.
On the other side of the coin, Bandera County spent $219,000 for court-appointed attorneys. The $27,000 in county and juvenile courts accounted for a 26 percent decrease from 2013-2014. However, $192,000 was spent providing court appointed attorneys for cases in district court - an increase of 24 percent from the previous year.
Additionally, the county received $31,000 from the comptroller for indigent services, which increased from $19,000 the previous year. "You spent far more than what the state gave you," Neffendorf pointed out.
"That's not hard to do," Judge Richard Evans rejoined.
Additionally, indigent health care, another unfunded mandate from the state, cost Bandera County taxpayers $156,000 last year, which surprisingly represented a decrease of approximately 47 percent from the previous fiscal year. To fund this operation, county residents are assessed a tax rate of $0.0090 per $100 valuation.
For the 2013 tax roll, the total assessed valuation by the Bandera County Central Appraisal District was $1,777,776,629 and taxes assessed amounted to $12,033,770.
"My unqualified opinion is that this is the best [audit] you can get," Neffendorf said. "The county continues to be in good financial shape."
The bottom line is the county's debts are steadily deceasing while its revenues continue to increase. And, according to Neffendorf, for the past several years, the county has used steady growth of property values and rate increases to meet demands for services.