Administrator: St. Lawrence County won’t need to borrow millions for cash needs this year
By JIMMY LAWTON
CANTON -- A report from the St. Lawrence County Treasurer Renee Cole Monday indicated that St. Lawrence County will not have to borrow money to meet its cash flow needs in this year.
“It’s great news for the county. We are digging out,” St. Lawrence County Administrator Ruth Doyle said of announcement in a brief interview Tuesday.Cole told the Finance Committee Monday that the county was on solid fiscal standing.
Doyle credited department heads, St. Lawrence County Legislators and close scrutiny on filling vacancies for the success.
“There has been a lot of hard work from our department heads and I think the legislators have been very careful about spending. We implemented a fund balance policy to help grow fund balance in I believe 2016 and we’ve been very careful about filling vacancies,” she said.
For nearly a decade the county has had to borrow more than $5 million in the fall in order to meet cash flow needs.
The practice of borrowing in the county has been the norm since at least 2011. The county borrowed $8.5 million in 2011, $12 million in 2012, and $10 million in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2016 the county borrowed $9.5 million and last year the county borrowed $5 million.
The county typically pays the loans off in one year, but accumulates more than $100,000 in interest on the borrowed cash.
Doyle said the county was also successful in reconciling its books with help from an outside firm, which has spent more than a year working closely with county staff to ensure funds were properly accounted for and tracked. The county had several accounts that were not directly tied to budget items properly. Auditors first discovered the problem in 2012. In 2016 the county hired a firm to work along side Cole and her staff to balance the accounts and reconcile the books.
“We are caught up down to the penny,” she said.