The Beaufort County certified audit report is finally on its website — only seven months after the close of the fiscal year last June 30. Corporation financial results show up in newspapers less than one month after their fiscal year closes.
Beaufort County, while underspending general-fund expenses by $1.1 million, decided to spend $1 million on capital items not budgeted. More than $700,000 of that was charged to County Council members’ own budget.
Revenues were up a total of $3.9 million, but some items were far from budget: Current real estate taxes, plus $484,000; delinquent taxes, minus $911,000; vehicle taxes, plus $1.6 million; penalties, minus $240,000; Register of Deeds fees, plus $1 million; EMS fees, plus $841,000.
Some of these items could have been budgeted higher based upon the previous-year spending; however, County Council members pay little attention to their own budget provided by the administrator while they are busy scrutinizing the school district budget.
The county administration did a good job of managing expenses against budgets. However, Council members spent more than double from their own budget of $611,000. Beaufort County added $3.8 million to its surplus, but it would have been $4.8 million had it not spent the un-budgeted capital monies.
The Beaufort County Legislative Delegation should appoint a citizens’ committee with overview of the county budget as the county has over the school district budget. Both are elected by the same voters. Why should County Council have greater privilege than the school board? It’s unaccountable budgeting.