Thursday, June 19, 2014
Independent Auditor: The Cupboard is Bare
"That's a pretty low amount," explained Gunza, who added that the Government Finance Officers Association recommends a six month reserve.
Remember when Lamont McClure scoffed at the $60 million fund balance in 2011, even though the unrestricted amount was really much lower, down around $15 million? He called it a "slush fund."
Ron Angle, as a member of Council, fought hard to keep two months of cash on hand for emergencies, a $25 million stabilization fund. But with Angle out of office, the rats have eaten away at the wheels of cheese.
This can't be! roared Ken Kraft after Gunza's announcement. He tried to claim that the $11 million figure Gunza quoted is in addition to the $25 million stabilization fund the county keeps for a rainy day.
"You had $25 million," explained the County's Fiscal Director, Doran Hamann. "I think 'had' is the operative word." he added that last year, "We spent $14 million in excess of our revenues," which brought the stabilization fund down to an unhealthy $11.1 million.
McClure, who was absent yesterday, just two weeks ago claimed that there is no deficit at all in Northampton County. It appears that the financial people think otherwise.
People could look at the fund balance now, which is hovering at about $88 million, and claim there's no reason for concern. But it is at that amount because most of the taxes haves been paid, but the expenses have not. Most of the revenue the County will realize this year is in the till, but it will draw down as the year progresses and bills and salaries are paid.
What happens if the County needs $14 million to balance the books this year? The money just isn't there. That's very bad news at a time when seven of the County's 11 unions are operating without a contract.
Ken Kraft told The Express Times after the meeting that the County has more money than it is letting on. This is an independent audit, Ken. It is not a Lamont McClure or Steve Barron AFSCME special.
Earlier in the meeting, Barron had raised concerns about nonunion custodial workers at the centralized human services building. Maybe he should be a little more focused on finding the money he insisted was available when John Stoffa had suggested a tax hike.
Thanks to Barron and McClure, they cooked the books and used money in reserve to balance the budget. That's how you end up with mega tax increases like the ones imposed by Glenn Reibman, after he had played chef.
When Executive John Brown was inaugurated, he vowed he would fight to avoid a tax hike this year. I think he has no choice, unless he intends to lay off half the workforce. You can thank Barron and McClure.