ALACHUA COUNTY - There has been some confusing and somewhat misleading information circulating recently regarding the increase in Alachua County's spending over the last few years. Based on the most recent audited financial statements, Alachua County's governmental expenditures increased 7.2% from FY2002 through FY2005.
The audit for FY2006 is not expected to be completed until early January, but very preliminary figures indicate an increase in governmental expenditures from FY2003 through FY2006 of approximately 18%. It also appears that the majority of this increase is occurring in FY2006 and is related to capital road improvements. We will release updated figures when the FY2006 audit is completed.
Because of the complexities in governmental accounting requirements, it is most accurate and responsible to compare a government's actual expenditures from year to year rather than comparing budgeted expenditures. For example, county government budgets include all reserves and inter-fund transfers, yet these will never materialize into government expenditures. In Alachua County, the total of these two lines exceeded $50,000,000 in the FY2006 budget.
It goes beyond prudent financial management to maintain adequate operating reserves, but is often a legal requirement as well as an indication of a government's overall financial condition. It is a legislative mandate that external auditors report annually to the Office of the Auditor General on a government's overall financial condition, and operating reserves available for emergencies is the overriding indicator.
With the Board's emphasis on allocating funds for major capital improvements and supporting bonds to be issued, the public should expect to see the County's expenditures increase over the next few years. In FY2007, the Board has approved a Capital Improvements Program that includes major public facility, parks and road improvements.
For additional information, please contact Alachua County Office of Management and Budget Director Suzanne Gable at (352) 374-5262.