Audit: Cambria County’s financial situation strengthens; 2022 tax cut announced | New
EBENSBURG – The Cambria County Financial Office may have to order more black ink after the county’s annual audit report on Thursday.
Joel Valentine, CEO of Wessel & Company, presented the pink report, showing a surplus of $ 13.4 million for 2020 at the Cambria County Commissioners meeting in Duman Lake County Park.
Although Valentine said that $ 11 million in federal money received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act made a huge difference, he said ongoing efforts had improved the overall situation.
âIf this funding had not been received, it would have been closer to a breakeven point,â said Valentine. “But the county management team did a great job managing this funding and distributing it to the community and also offsetting the costs to the taxpayer.”
Valentine pointed out the 2.6: 1 ratio between assets and liabilities.
âYou have more than enough to meet your current obligations,â he said. âJust five years ago, that ratio was less than one. This certainly strengthens the county’s position for taxpayers.
The other highlight is the $ 13.4 million surplus, or reserve fund. Valentine said the amount in reserve is ideal for the size of the budget.
âThis reserve is probably the number that matters the most in these financial statements,â said Valentine. âIn 2015, it was a deficit of $ 8.5 million. Now it’s the turn of a much healthier reserve which is great to see and great for Cambria County taxpayers.
The county pension fund is now 92% funded, he continued.
âJust in 2018, it was 76% funded,â Valentine said. âGaining that much traction in the plan – 16 percentage points – is remarkable over a two-year period.â
Righting the county’s financial ship has been a priority for the commissioners, Thomas Chernisky, chairman-commissioner, said at the meeting.
âAt the end of 2015, Cambria County had a deficit of $ 9.7 million,â he said. âBy working together, we were able to close the gap. Now, five years later, Cambria County has a general fund balance that a county our size should have.
Commissioner Scott Hunt thanked County employees for their efforts to contain costs.
âAll department heads and all officials are working together,â Hunt said. “If (Washington) DC and Harrisburg were to function like we do in Cambria County, things could actually get done.”
“We are doing it right, making sure we get efficiencies where we can, reducing costs and continuing to improve,” Controller Ed Cernic Jr. said after the meeting. âWhile we are doing better, we certainly haven’t made it out of the woods. “
The turnaround could justify a tax cut for the 2022 budget, Cernic said.
As he stopped before approving a tax cut, Valentine said, “This is the best financial situation the county has been in for a long time.”
Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on twitter @ PhotoGriffer57.