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Open Discussion: Arlington Releases Financial Audit

by ARLnow.com December 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm 1,879 13 Comments

As required by law, Arlington has completed a comprehensive audit of the county’s finances for fiscal year 2010.

The audit, conducted by the accounting firm of Clifton Gunderson LLP, was just posted on the county’s web site and discussed briefly by County Manager Barbara Donnellan at Tuesday afternoon’s board meeting.

“I’m glad to report that the county has once again received an unqualified or ‘clean’ opinion from our auditors,” Donnellan said. “Once again Arlington’s fiscal management has been found to be strong.”

The 216-page report can be downloaded in PDF format here. Instead of attempting what would likely be a woefully incomplete analysis, we’ll open up the comment section to anyone who wants to examine specific sections of the document.

If we can find a couple hundred food critics, there have got to be a few accountants out there, right?

  • PikeHoo

    Income Statement – Pages 37 and 38 (exhibit 2) is probably the most interesting.

    Whoever put this together should be flogged for not formatting to fit on 1 page in landscape. Sloppy work. Yes, I am a complete Excel nerd.

    • Arlwhenever

      To me, what is most interesting is the County has at least $400 million dollars in unfunded retirement liabilities (and growing rapidly), including about $110 million for County pensions, $200 million for unfunded post employment benefits (County share) and $100 million for unfunded post employment benefits (APS share). But don’t worry about paying these down, we can get there by going by streetcar.

      Second most interesting is that the percentage of County debt that is represented by General Obligation Bonds continues to plummet and is down to 54.4 percent ($689.4 million out of $1,273 million); as recently as 2005 the percentage was 76.2 percent. General Obligation Bonds are the only part of its debt authorized in bond referenda which means that most of the increase in County indebtedness occurs outside the purview of the ordinary citizen and voter. But darn, financing the future that way will get us a streetcar, so who cares?

      • 4Arl

        Arlwhenever, I agree. I’ve found it odd that few people are bothered by the retirement liabilities and frankly haven’t come across anyone that really cares. It reminds me of something I read once, that people spend hours and days researching and deliberating on buying something like a piece of furniture or choosing what shade of color to paint a room, but are perfectly fine with choosing or accepting their 401k retirement investments in 30 seconds.

        Thanks, ARLNow, for trying to raise the public’s awareness of county finances! Hope you can do similar pieces in preparation for budget season.

        • PCB

          Just keep spending and worry about paying down that growing liability later…

  • Arlwhenever

    Released five and one-half months after the end of the fiscal year, when the corporate standard for large corporations is 60 days and medium corporations is 75 days. All together now, let’s hear it for the timeliness and transparency of the world-class Arlington County government. Hip, hip, hooray!

    • PikeHoo

      What’s the government standard for reporting timeliness? It makes more sense to compare our County government to other County governments and not corporations. Apples to apples, amigo.

      • Arlwhenever

        District of Columbia gets their audited annual financial report out within four months; and we all know the District is a model of financial management model that we all should aspire to.

  • On quick first glance: The auditor agreed the report was fairly presented, meaning that they did not find any discrepancies in the report.
    Net assets increased, however operating revenue was down, year to year. The difference was made up from increased grant funding. The current ratio is high, almost 5:1, which means the county has cash on hand to pay current debts. The amount of receivables is also high, though, which could mean the county is having trouble collecting debts. Also, long-term debt increased by about $65 million from last year. Property tax collection and investment income were down, but that is more correlated to the economic recession. Program revenues were down, but only about $1 million from last year.

    A lot of the information isn’t really helpful unless it gets compared to last year’s data.

  • PCB

    Having a hard time believing anyone has read through this report in the 5 minutes it’s been up. Maybe instead of picking and choosing numbers out of context you should read the report in its entirety before commenting. Wishful thinking…

  • tuesdayschild

    This seems interesting. Not sure I understand the entry fully. Maybe the county is going to reimburse employees for past furlough days? Which would mean the furlough days were not budget “cuts”, but were rather temporary loans from the employees to the county? Of course, I am not an accountant.

    “Designated for Employee Fourlough Day Re-funding $1,012,911”

    • mehoo

      Could be that future furlough days were scheduled and now are being rescinded before they happen?

  • Burger

    Interesting.. Budgeted Amounts
    Original Final Actual Deficit
    County Attorney 2,411,718 2,801,911 3,956,636 (1,154,725)

    Just seeing the amount of money spent on the 395 fight is sickening.

  • For the record, the County’s financial audit was completed Oct. 28 – too late to get it to the Board for its November meeting. We always present it first to the Board, and then release it to the public. By law, the audit must be presented to the Board before Dec. 31. A free copy of the audit is available on CD – just contact the Dept. of Management and Finance at 703-228-3415. We apologize for the inconvenient formatting on-line. To put the audit on line in a single page format, we would have had to reduce the schedule to 54 percent of normal size – which would render it unreadable. By putting it up in portrait format, on two pages, we hoped to improve the schedule’s legibility. We will review our options and try to improve formatting for next year’s audit.


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