County’s piggy bank ‘solvent’ | SierraSun.com

County’s piggy bank ‘solvent’

Dave Moller
Sun news service

Nevada County finished the last fiscal year in the black with more debt but also more savings than the year before, according to an annual audit report at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

The report also showed the county’s population continued to grow a scant amount – less than 1 percent – for the last fiscal year compared with a year ago.

The audit from accountants Smith and Newell shows an ending fund balance of almost $57 million, up almost $5 million from the year before.

The county picked up almost $21 million in added debt during the 2006-2007 fiscal year because of loans to complete the Lake of the Pines and Lake Wildwood wastewater treatment plant projects. The long-term debt increased from around $49 million to almost $70 million.

“We got a passing grade,” said Auditor-Controller Marcia Salter of the audit from Yuba City-based Smith and Newell, which found only some minor internal control issues to correct. The information will be scrutinized by various agencies that give the county grants and bonds, Salter said.

“We’re very solvent,” said Supervisor Hank Weston.

The county has about $15.2 million in money set aside for various programs, including $3.6 million that is open for any use, according to Assistant Auditor-Controller Linda West. The remaining $11.6 million is set aside for pensions, special projects, the general plan update and expenditures for projects not yet approved.

Property taxes levied increased almost 13 percent from the last fiscal year from nearly $151 million, compared to almost $134 million the year before. The county ended the 2006-2007 fiscal year with $312 million in assets compared to $298 million the year before.

The report also included information on the local economy and work force.

The population for 2007, according to estimates from the California Department of Finance is almost 100,000 at 99,766, with two-thirds of them living outside cities. Truckee is estimated to have 16,000, Grass Valley with almost 13,000 and Nevada City at almost 3,100.

The county’s labor force is estimated at 51,200, up more than 11 percent since the year 2000.

The years 2002 to 2006 showed job growth, but that was before the 2007 full plunge in real estate and subsequent economic problems.

During the years 2002 to 2006, industrial employment increased 870 jobs, while leisure and hospitality gained 400 jobs, the audit said. Mining and construction was up with 620 new jobs, followed by business services with 430.