Brian Massie, Citizen Journalist
A special thanks to Auditor Galloway for his transparency dealing with the finances of Lake County government. The following documents were sent to us by Auditor Galloway as part of our public records request.
Here is the email we sent to Auditor Galloway after reviewing the financial statements:
We appear to be a very financially strong County, and to increase taxes on the citizens at this time is not in the best interests of the citizens.
Account 659 ARPA funds shows $35,753,555 unencumbered….Is that the balance yet to be used by the Commissioners? Can it be used for the Public Safety Center?
Account 894 Surplus Over $4,699,868 unencumbered…is this still the balance of the overpaid property taxes not returned to the taxpayers? Treasurer Zuren said that $1,845,465 had been returned to the taxpayers to date. It started at $5.3 so I would expect the balance to be around $3.5. Was something added to this account? If yes, what is it, and how owns title to the funds.
Here is Auditor Galloway’s response to us:
You are correct in your assessment. As I have repeatedly stated, the county is in the strongest financial position it has been in my 50 years on this planet. [Emphasis added by LFC]
Regarding ARPA funds, based on votes taken and commitments made by the BCC I would say the real balance is lower, but the Budget Director has not made those encumbrances. Don’t know why.
The exact amount that could be used toward the jail is undetermined bc we don’t have specific costs on some things like water/sewer infrastructure that it could be applied to, but my guess is in the ballpark of about $15m of ARPA money could be used.
Regarding 894, keep in mind that excess payments are returned all the time in-year. I believe Treasurer Zuren is talking about current excesses as well as some from the historic balance when he references the monies returned.