$15K per acre and other tidbits from the CAFR

On 12/15/2017, Linn County’s Director of Finance published the County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending 6/30/2017 – see attachment. As expected, it’s all good news and our AAA bond rating is intact.

I am not an accountant so when I look at this report, I look at it as your Auditor and as a taxpayer. Here are some tidbits I found:

1> Page 3 – The terms of eight of our ten county officers will expire at the end of 2018. Starting on 1/2/2019, we will only have three county supervisors.

2> Page 4 – Three of the departments in the County are governed by autonomous, independent commissions or boards (appointed by the Supervisors).

3> Page 5 – Our outside auditor only audited what we, the County, gave them to audit and their report is based on what we gave them to audit.

4> Page 19 – The Board of Supervisors purchased 485 acres of property aka the Dows property for $7.2M or $14,845 per acre. In my opinion, they entered into the business of speculating on land and paid too much for this land.

5> Page 20 – In FY2017, the County’s bond debt increased from $18.435M to $24.470M.

6> Page 20 – In FY18, the County’s revenue from property taxes will increase by $3.495M or 5.5% based upon the County’s current levy rate of $6.14 per thousand dollars of taxable value. The Board of Supervisors discussed lowering the levy rate last year, but declined to lower it. Looks like they will have an opportunity to lower the levy in an election year so I am betting they will lower it in 2018. The Board was able to maintain the $6.14 rate for several years due to three factors: an increase in property valuation (Thank You taxpayers for continuing to add value to your properties), a decrease in the rollback percentage that increases the portion of your property that is taxed (set by the State of Iowa), and increased assessments on your property (due to an increase in the market value of your properties determined by the County and Cedar Rapids assessors).

7> Page 114 – On 6/30/2008, the County’s general obligation (GO) bond debt was $1.2M; on 6/30/2009, GO debt was zero ($0.00); and on 6/30/2017, GO debt was $23.980M. Every man, woman, and child residing in the County is now responsible for $105.05 of the County’s outstanding GO bond debt.

8> Page 118 – Per person personal income is reported to be $45,483; however, the US Census Bureau indicates the County’s median household income, which includes all adults and any child 15 years of age or older, is $60,989 with 10% of our population living in poverty.

9> Page 125 – On 6/30/2008, the County employed the equivalent of 825 full-time employees (FTE). As of 6/30/2017, the County employed 739 FTEs. Over those last ten fiscal years, Linn County Community Services lost the most employees, i.e., 89 employees. The Child Support Recovery Unit was eliminated along with its 22 employees. The Sheriff added 16 employees, Public Health added 9 employees, and Conservation added 4 employees. The Auditor’s Office reduced its FTEs from 18 to 17.

The CAFR is 136 pages long. In addition to the CAFR, the 2017 Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) was inserted into today’s (12/18/2017) Gazette. Certainly, there are other tidbits that may peak your interest, but the preceding are some of the tidbits I found. Enjoy! – Joel D. Miller (NP) – Linn County Auditor

Comprehensive Annual Financial Report FY17.pdf

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