Sussex County has its highest fund balance since 2008, according to its 2021 audit, which was presented at the June 8 county commissioners meetings.
Auditor Ray Sarinelli, of Nisivoccia LLP, reported that the county has a fund balance of $18,926,000, which is an increase of about $2 million over where it started in 2021, due to higher budgeted revenues and lapsing appropriation reserves.
The last time the county’s fund balance was at least $18 million was in 2008. It hit a low of less than $10 million in 2011.
“I think over the last 10 or 12 years or so, all the commissioners over the years have done a nice job of building that fund balance back up,” Sarinelli said.
He said having such a high fund balance will insulate the county during an uncertain economy.
According to Commissioners Director Anthony Fasano, S&P Global has affirmed Sussex County’s AA+ rating with a “stable outlook highlighting well-embedded financial management policies and practices, a strong practice of positive financial operations, and very strong reserves.”
“There is a lot to be proud of here,” Fasano added.
The county had one recommendation on its audit, which involved the segregation of duties, an item the county receives on its audit year after year, as it does not have enough staff to segregate duties.
Sarinelli said it’s very difficult for the county to address this recommendation.
“You’re operating with only a small number of personnel,” Sarinelli said. “The only way to remedy this would be to hire more personnel, but it wouldn’t make fiscal sense to do that. So, it’s a very difficult recommendation to get rid of.”
Sarinelli said he is working with Sussex County Chief Financial Officer Elke Yetter to work on solutions to mitigate the recommendation.
“That has the potential to, maybe, remove that recommendation at some point down the road if we can find the right balance of procedures, where it’s not overly burdensome on any single person, but gives you adequate controls over those departments,” Sarinelli said.