County’s Fiscal Health Continues Positive Trend
The audit is done and the news is good! I am proud to report that Nassau County remains fiscally healthy and is doing very well. The annual financial audit results are in for fiscal year ending 2015 and independent auditor Ron Whitesides, from Purvis Gray & Company, reports “…very positive audit result... the county remains in strong financial condition.”
Mr. Whitesides attended the Wednesday, May 18th Board of County Commission meeting to provide a brief summary of the audit results: total revenues increased substantially from $80 million in 2014 to $102 million in 2015; county pensions are in the Florida Retirement System which is 92% funded (making it one of the top three state retirement systems in the country); unrestricted funds finished the year above the Government Finance Officers Association’s minimum requirements of two months reserves (approximately $25 million of the $18 - $20 million benchmark); and the county finished the year with an excess of nearly $5 million (while spending just over $19 million on capital outlay).
In addition to the annual financial audit, my office monitors several other indicators to assess the county’s strong and improving fiscal health: taxable values in 2015 increased 5.3% over the previous year (even with the Save our Homes cap of 0.8%); recurring revenues (ad valorem property taxes, one-cent surtax, and other governmental revenues combined) are now the highest ever in Nassau County’s history (totaling $68.6 million, with even more planned for the upcoming budget year); tourism continues to grow at record breaking numbers, bringing in nearly $5 Million in Tourist Development Tax for fiscal year ending 2015 (up another 11% from last year); current unemployment rate for April is 4.2% (this is down 19% from 2015); and closed home sales for 2015 are up 35.7%, with foreclosures down 19%. The county also has a fully funded five year Capital Improvement Plan totaling over $47 Million of approved projects (adding over $9.2M in projects over the last year); maintains its high credit rating, affirmed by Fitch Ratings in October 2015 (“A+” for non ad valorem revenue bonds and “AA-” for the implied general obligations rating); and possibly the best news of all, the county continues to pay down debt, thus creating the opportunity to be debt free in just under 16 years which in turn will free up additional revenues!
Nassau County’s fiscal health continues to be strong and trending positively. With the proper planning and managing of the resources we have, we can continue to avoid placing undue burdens on the taxpayers. Rest assured, the only way we fall off a fiscal cliff is if we steer that way; as independent auditor, Mr. Ron Whitesides affirmed, “I continue to think that Nassau County is in a good, strong financial position.”