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Finances under close county watch

COVINGTON -- Halfway through the county's fiscal year, "We are holding our own," Administrative Officer John Middleton told commissioners Tuesday night.

So far this fiscal year, general fund cash collections totaled approximately $23.4 million, while total cash disbursements were at about $22.2 million.

For the second quarter, ending in December 2009, operating revenues were at about $18.6 million, as compared to $18.95 million for the same time in fiscal year 2009.

"That's to be expected, with the reduction in the tax digest," Middleton said.

Operating expenses totaled $11.5 million for the second quarter of fiscal year 2010 compared to $12.9 million in second quarter fiscal year 2009.

Middleton said county staff members, department heads and constitutional officers continue to be very conservative with their spending, and purchases are examined on a regular basis.

Revenues fell a bit shy of the targeted budget of $21.1 million, coming in at $18.6 million. Expenses, at $11.5 million, are also below the targeted budget of $11.9 million.

Year to date, expenses total $21.9 million, meaning about 45 percent of the $47.5 million budget has been spent. The fiscal year ends June 30.

"I don't think there's a single magical answer to what we're working on and doing," Middleton said. "We're pleased with the results and pleased with the cooperation we're getting from all the constitutional officers and department heads."

Middleton said special purpose local option sales tax revenues are $50,000 short of what was projected, but the county has yet to receive the December collection amounts.

Chairman Kathy Morgan also reported that thus far, 88.5 percent of ad valorem taxes have been collected, per Tax Commissioner Barbara Dingler.

"Last year at this time, it was 89 percent, so we are following true to form. That's very positive for the tax commissioner's department, as well as for the citizens of Newton County," Morgan said.