Beaufort County's Financial Wizzards | Beaufort County Now

Beaufort County has a hole in it budget bucket. It is leaking money. But, the water level never goes down. Beaufort County, off the books accounting, Property tax collections, Commissioner Hood Richardson, Stan Deatherage
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Beaufort County's Financial Wizzards

    Beaufort County has a hole in it budget bucket. It is leaking money. But, the water level never goes down. Here is how the commissioners run their money bucket. They take credit for increased income while they take money out thru the hole. The budget is always balanced. This is also called off the books accounting.

    I have, for years, tried to spark interest in the operating finances of Beaufort County. That is, the day to day operations, where the money goes, and how are the various spending centers doing in meeting their budgets. Are we spending more money than budgeted or less and why?

    My wish finally took root at the March Commissioner's meeting. A 15 minute presentation was made by the finance officer, Anita Radcliffe. The presentation included a discussion of revenues, the increased sales tax collections, and the status of property tax collections. Property tax collections year to date are approaching 99 percent.

    Mrs. Radcliffe noted that all departments were at or below their prorated spending amounts. Commissioner Rebholz praised the presentation and ignored the hole in the bucket.

    Historically commissioners have had little interest in monthly financial reports. The biggest reason for lack of interest, in my opinion, is because I am the only commissioner (thru the end of last year) who has had responsibility for managing a budget. Langley and Booth were both government employees, Brinn had a business but stayed in debt, Frankie Waters was a bank loan officer, Jerry Evans has a business, but reports are that it is run by someone other than him. That leaves only Stan Deatherage who runs his personal communications business. So there are five commissioners who are clueless about budget management. That is why we have poor budget management and taxes go up every year. There is one more sinister incentive, if these guys spend too much money, they just raise taxes. We cannot do that in the real world.

    Taxes have gone up 22 percent during the past four years. Using a "continuation budget" they do not have to worry about spending and controlling costs,, they just raise taxes. Most of the managers in county government spend enough so the next "continuation budget is always raised, never lowered.

    The Sheriff, in particular, has a neat trick. He gets a budget in July. If he overspends in one line item, he just comes back to Waters and Associates and gets more money. He never covers the unexpected costs by shifting money from other parts of his budget. Then towards the end of he year he pulls the under-spent line items together and blows that money too. This year he gave about half of his upper level employees raises between three and seven thousand dollars. These practices are what is raising taxes..

    I deliberately did not ask questions, although I had several. The reason I didn't is because, I want the reports to continue each month.. Also, I was waiting to see who would ask questions and how relevant they would be to budget control.

    It is significant that no commissioner asked a question. Why? Could it be the report was perfect and everyone but me understood the budget. Or, could it be these commissioners did know enough to ask a question? We will have the answer after a few more monthly presentations. I believe these guys are following the old advice of "Do not as a question and show how little you know".There was a good reason why the budget is so perfect. The majority of the commissioners adjust he budget, that is move money around or create a capital ordinance to make sure the budget is always perfect. For example the Sheriff is 2 million dollars over budget because of terrible management in the jail. So the majority of the

    Board created a capital ordinance to hide the over spending. The capital ordinance took the money out of the operating budget.

    A good example of sneaky budgeting and is the need for almost a one half million dollar increase in jail spending during March. Mrs. Radcliffe proposed moving the surplus in sales tax revenue to the Sheriffs capital budget to cover up this poorly managed increase in expense. This creates not one but two financial mismanagement sins at the same time. That is, good financial practice is to take all revenues into the general fund and to appropriate all spending from the general fund. Bypassing the general fund is a shell game. It allows the failure in budgeting to be covered up. It makes the Finance Officer, the Manager , the Sheriff and some lazy commissioners look good. They could proudly say we have a "balanced budget".

    What it really does is rob other needs for money for legitimate purposes.. Government budget mangers don't have to make tough decisions like private business managers do. And, in this case the "extra money" given to the Sheriff's budget was not available to give non-Sheriff personnel a raise. It's a neat trick if one can get away with it. This behavior is approved by these five commissioners.

    While county employees can make these tactics work with the auditors, it is still bad financial policy and leads to distortions in accounting for money. It is true, as they say. it is the same government pot of money but it

    covers up bad financial practice on the part of commissioners and bad management...




Comments

( April 21st, 2020 @ 11:08 am )
 
Well Garry, I am glad that you and The Hood could work that out.

Actually, The Hood was on the Trump Train long before anyone I know of closely ... except possibly Diane Rufino - beaufortcountynow.com.

And, I actually agree too about the labels. Being a Republican in Beaufort County means absolutely nothing right now, and has been moving in that direction for well over a decade to this fruition. Labels are useless, and only action matters to me; The Hood is no different at his core.

There are some real tough times ahead for Beaufort County; there were before the Governor's Unilateral Shutdown of all counties, irrespective of their density.

Please continue to pay attention to the commissioners' meetings, and then ask yourself: What is prudent, understanding that government cannot fix everything, and often make things worse by trying to do so?

You are always welcome to discuss your thoughts on BCN. We are growing as a media space, and are currently the largest online publication in Beaufort County's history, employing the top technology to do so, developed right here in Beaufort County.

Remember, you are welcome.
( April 21st, 2020 @ 9:09 am )
 
Thank you for correcting me for my lack of understanding of your actions and statements. I know you from your appearances on the Commissioner's Meetings and your statements on this site. You don't know me! I am not a liberal progressive using tactics "right out of the ultra liberal socialist play book" or the "liberal play book". I am also not an ultra conservative who hides behind the same fear mongering as the ultra left. I am also not intimidated by the rhetoric of either side. President Trump is my president, and his policies by and large reflect my vision of the direction America should be headed. He makes some outrages statements at times, and that is frustrating to me. But he is getting most of his Agenda for America done.
My hope is that you could concentrate on all the people of Beaufort County, conservative and liberal, republicans and democrats and unaffiliated to get done what is the best for our county without labeling them. Once elected you are a representative of all the people not just the "party". Thank-you and I look forward to all of my commissioners working together to keep Beaufort County Great!
( April 20th, 2020 @ 7:54 am )
 
What Commissioner Richardson says is true.

In my 17 years of budget workshops with The Hood, he never fails to offer an alternative to needlessly wasting the taxpayers treasury.

Watch him do it again, this year very soon, in my 18th year of serving with this true Budget Hawk.
( April 20th, 2020 @ 7:16 am )
 
Mr. Mickey, Sr. It is difficult to deal with your comments because of your demonstrated lack of comprehension of the written word. It is always better to respond to people you do not like after emotional episodes ARE OVER. I clearly stated, in the article, why I did not ask questions. This financial presentation is supposed to be made every month. There is plenty of time for me to ask questions after the establishment has set themselves up.

Right off the bat you accuse me of contributing to the 22 percent increase in taxes. My record is very clear in that I opposed every tax increase and voted against them all.

Your suggestion that I either find a better alternative or a compromise it right out of the ultra liberal socialist play book. Those tax increases are for things the public did no want and does not need. Therefore, the the only alternative is to vote against them. As for compromise, that is also out of the liberal play book. Why would I compromise for half of a bad idea. It is still a bad idea.

As for duping my supporters, this is a free country, I do not tell people what to think. My supporters independently came to the same conclusion that I came to using their knowledge of the Constitution and their personal intelligence.

There is terror in your last statement, that I could possibly become Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. The fight between liberals and RINO's in Beaufort County has always been about conservative leadership. The way to stop conservative leadership is to stop Hood Richardson. Beaufort County desperately needs conservative leadership, whether it is me or another true and honest conservative.
( April 19th, 2020 @ 4:27 pm )
 
Hey mr. richardson. What is a wizzard?
And, since you didn't ask any questions, that makes you as worthy of your criticism as everyone else. And while I am at it, just what have you done in 14 years to help the citizens of Beaufort County. You have contributed to the 22 percent increase in taxes by not offering
a. a better alternative or
b. a compromise.
You have duped your supporters into thinking you have tried to save them money on their taxes, when all you've done is cast a no vote to issues that were going to pass anyway and you knew it. You can't take credit for protecting your supporter's money when you have not provided wise financial counsel other than "I am not voting for that, and I'll tell you why." And your why is simply that you don't want to, or you don't like the person(s) who submitted the idea or it looks like you voted to not raise taxes.
I for one, see you as the sham you are. And I hope the new board of commissioners is not foolish enough to elect you as the new chairman. OR maybe they should and then your tenure as commissioner will come to an abrupt end as your total lack of leadership and wisdom will be further exposed.



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