I’ve had questions and comments about the document titled “Estimated Cash Flow Oct 13 thru Mar 14,” which I obtained from Judge Lacy’s office last week, and included in the article, Judge Lacy: $3M Missing From Bowie County. Lacy said the numbers were provided to his office by the County Auditor, William Tye.
Here are the figures again:
|Month||Revenue||Expenses||Official Check Register|
Total revenue, as of the end of March, is $19,052,971.58, total expenses are $12,943,289.14, leaving a positive balance of $6,109,682.44. The check register shows only $3,089,987.29, leaving $3,019,695.15 unaccounted for. This is approximately the same discrepancy between the revenue and expenses as of May 27, and the reported cash available, as detailed in the article mentioned above.
Tye explained in a special session of Commissioners Court that the discrepancy is accounted for by the approximately $3,000,000 revenue shortfall in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013. Essentially, this fiscal year’s cash flow surplus paid the bills still outstanding from last fiscal year.
Everyone with whom I’ve spoken is taking “Official Check Register” to mean the balance at the end of the month, and the assumption is that it refers to some kind of cash account, or possibly multiple accounts. (Discussion about actual cash on hand in Commissioners Court often becomes convoluted, with the discussion quickly turning to fund balance instead of actual cash. Former Commissioner PatMcCoy asked for regular forecasts of actual cash on hand several months ago.)
Two issues have been noted:
- The chart doesn’t seem to reflect an extra three million dollars of this year’s revenue being spent. With an annual budget of less than $30,000,000, average monthly expenses are around $2,500,000, although as Lacy noted, county officials have done an admirable job of keeping expenses well under budget.
- The official check register doesn’t add up.
Here’s the same chart, with computed balances as an added column:
|Month||Revenue||Expenses||Official Check Register||Computed Balance|
To find the computed balance, I used the official check register balance for the ending of October 2013 as the beginning balance of November 2013, which seems logical. The computed balance at the end of March of $6,912,044.49, is much closer to the difference between revenue and expenses, $6,109,682.44 as noted above, than the official check register.
What do the numbers in the official check register represent? What numbers are used by Commissioners Court for forecasting cash flow and managing the county’s finances?
At Court on Tuesday (and again on Friday), Judge Lacy mentioned something about having nine million dollars in the bank. When I spoke with him Tuesday afternoon, I asked about that figure. He gave me a sheet with these figures, which County Treasurer Donna Burns verified came from a packet used in Commissioners Court a few weeks ago, and were current as of March 31, 2014:
|1986 Right of Way||$34.97|
|BCT Credit Card||$0.00|
|Bowie Red River Dist Community||$2.00|
|Community Supervision 6711||$65,306.81|
|Community Supervision 7929||$0.00|
|Electronic Funds Transfer||$17,435.81|
|General Fund Jury Account||$3,155.50|
|General Fund Operating Account||$6,934,590.15|
|Bowie County Restricted||$2,242,866.63|
|General Fund Salary Account||$0.00|
|Series 2005A Interest & Sinking||$0.00|
|Tax Assessor Credit Card Account||$0.00|
|Texarkana Tax Assessor Credit Card Acct.||$0.00|
|DA Restitution Account||$639.42|
|TexStar 2012 Interest & Sinking||$0.00|
|TexStar 2012 Construction||$26,093.75|
|Bowie County 2012 Construction||$25.65|
|Bowie County 2012 Interest & Sinking||$131,008.98|
The total of the Operating Account and the Restricted account is $9,177,456.78, and the total of all accounts is $9,441,159.67. The balance of the General Fund Operating account, $6,934,590.15, is also significantly closer to the revenue/expense balance above of $6,109,682.44 than it is to the auditor’s official check register.
A possible explanation for the discrepancy was suggested (watch the YouTube video) in Commissioners Court Tuesday that the missing money had gone toward items that aren’t part of the budget, such as Bowie County Adult Probation, or the Highway 82 expansion project, but the auditor said those weren’t part of the expenses.
That would seem to correspond with Judge Lacy’s assertion that budgeted revenue is only used for budgeted expenses, but the fact that Commissioner Blackburn asked the question leads one to wonder:
Is budgeted revenue ever used for non-budgeted expenses? How many projects/departments have either revenue or expenses that aren’t part of the county budget? Do those projects/departments have budgets? Is the Commissioners Court responsible for them?
What other questions come to mind? Add yours to the comments below, and I’ll try to find the answers ASAP.