Ada County was in excellent financial shape when I left office:
- The county carried forward 25 million unspent dollars from the FY 2013 budget into the following year’s budget
- Additionally, the county had more than $30 million in the bank, to pay off the courthouse bonds
- All of the county’s bills were paid and our legal obligations were fulfilled
Merely voting against a county budget once it is completed has little or no impact on actual government spending and is oftentimes done just for show because of an upcoming election. A ceremonial “no” vote on a final proposed budget should not be confused with an actual commitment to reducing spending.
During my two terms as an Ada County commissioner, I was committed to fulfilling all of the county’s legal obligations while still saving money for taxpayers.
Ada County was in excellent financial shape when I left office in January of 2013.
The Board of Ada County Commissioners did not take the allowable three percent property tax increase during my entire four-year term and the previous Board had forgone that increase for the three prior years, as well. The cumulative effect of forgoing the allowable tax increase for those seven years was $81 million left in taxpayers’ pockets – or bank accounts.
You don’t have to take my word for the county’s financial health in 2013. The public documents are all online. You can see them for yourself.
The last budget I worked on was for FY 2013, ended September 30, 2013. The subsequent budget included a more than $25 million “use of fund balance” that was carried forward into the FY 2014 budget.
Let’s be clear: when I left office, the county had a $25 million available fund balance, over and above paying all of the county’s FY 2013 bills, in order to continue operating on a cash basis and to meet future financial needs of the county.
You can see this $25 million figure for yourself on the county website, on page number two (it’s the fourth page, but has the number “2” at the bottom) of the 2013-2014 ADA COUNTY FINAL BUDGET document.
In addition, during my second term, we allocated approximately $18 million toward the purchase costs of the courthouse, which included placing about $10 million in a “savings account” for use in paying off the principal and another $8.3 million to make interest payments on the outstanding courthouse bond debt.
When I left office, the county had well in excess of $30 MILLION in the bank, in anticipation of paying off the courthouse bonds. In addition, when the $35.35 million final bond payment was made, the county transferred the remaining $6.175 million from that fund into the county general fund. The county had allocated $6 million more than was even needed! This information can be found on pages 23 and 124 of the 2015 CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report).
Ada County fulfilled all of its constitutional, statutory and financial obligations and was in excellent financial shape when I left office, despite having not collected $81 million from taxpayers.