By Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and Director of Accounts and Budgets Christopher K. Phillips
We have just released our Popular Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, and we wanted to share a snapshot of our county’s financial health. It’s important to know where we are, not only for the sake of transparency, but because the numbers are important for our future as a community.
As a nation, we’re enduring some challenging economic times, and more than ever, as businesses and industry choose where to locate, they are scrutinizing the financial health and stability of local governments as part of their decision making process. We believe when they look at Anderson County, they’ll like what they see.
Noteworthy accomplishments from 2013:
- For the first time since 2006, Anderson County qualified as a low-risk auditee and was removed from high-risk status.
- Fund balance policy was strengthened by requiring the county to increase its unassigned General Fund balance to $3.5 million from $2.5 million. Any dip into reserves requires a supermajority vote from County Commission.
- For 2013/2014, the county passed the budget without tax anticipation notes.
- For the year end, we increased the General Fund balance by $405,087. Though fractional, we were also able to adopt a budget that decreased the property tax rate for 2013-2014.
- We worked to improve the process for long range planning of capital projects and needs, as well as creating a new approach to handling and tracking grants.
Anderson County government also received two reviews by two separate ratings agencies this year—and those ratings are a great resource as we evaluate ourselves. We are pleased to note that Standard and Poor’s has raised its rating for our county two notches to AA from A+. That’s great news.
Standard and Poor’s notes that our budgetary flexibility is strong, and they credit us with building up reserves. Our progress, as well as Tennessee’s progress as a state, helped us achieve a two-notch increase.
In 2011, Moody’s had placed Anderson County on “negative outlook” to reflect a “weakened financial position after decreased General Fund reserves in years 2009-2011.” Moody’s has not yet lifted their negative outlook, but their recent review indicated favor for the direction we’re headed. They want to make sure we maintain a commitment to increasing our overall reserves as well as sustaining our ability to balance the budget without use of the fund balance. They let us know a continued commitment to our current direction will make our rating go up. And they like our “low direct debt burden.” For Moody’s, we’re not entirely there yet—but we’re headed in the right direction and they’re helping us keep our eyes focused on goals.
All in all, 2013 was a year of improvement, accomplishment and stability—and stability is good for families, good for businesses, and good for the people we serve. And stability is a positive on the ledger when new business, families, or industry look for a place to call home. While local government is just one part of the strength of any community, it is an important part. And we’ll work as hard as we can to make 2014 even better.
Copies of the Popular Annual Financial Report are available in the Mayor’s office, the Accounting office, or online at http://www.andersontn.org/budget%20documents/PAFR13pamp.pdf.