County Looks to Quell Misinformation Spreading

My name is Elizabeth Frances and I am the Finance Director for White Pine County. On behalf of the White Pine County Board of County Commissioners I would like to provide factual data to the public in order to correct misinformation being provided outside of official channels and reassure citizens of the solid financial position of the County.

Misinformation has been provided stating that White Pine County has a current budget shortfall of over $1,400,000 not including building commitments.

The County’s current general fund budget provides for $13,963,187 in expenditures and transfers and it also provides $13,963,187 in resources to cover them. The resources being utilized include $2,428,090 in fund balance. Of this amount $943,700 is a nonrecurring transfer to the White Pine County Aquatic Center Fund, $1,200,000 is a nonrecurring transfer to the Capital Improvements Fund, and $120,000 is a nonrecurring transfer to the Airport Improvement Fund. These transfers totaling $2,263,700 are primarily an accumulation of Net Proceeds of Minerals revenues. Due to the unpredictable nature of the mining industry, the County does not utilize these revenues in regular operations and they are set aside for large one-time investments that will benefit all county residents. In the case of the transfers outlined above the County intends to finish funding the new swimming pool facility; provide continuation of the facility upgrade projects including the Administration Building remodel, demolition of the Courthouse Annex, and expansion of the Public Safety Detention Facility; and provide for multiple upgrades to the County Airport.

Of the remaining $164,390, the County will utilize $125,000 for one-time, nonrecurring technology upgrades to provide more efficient service to citizens reducing long-term costs. It will also utilize $500 for a nonrecurring purchase of equipment to address a safety concern in the Public Health Department. Deducting these amounts from the remaining budgeted fund balance leaves $38,890. This would be the operating budget shortfall or the amount by which operating expenditures in the general fund exceed anticipated revenues. Although not balanced to zero, the County’s general fund does have adequate reserves to cover the $38,890 shortfall and it is nowhere near the $1,400,000 shortfall currently being alleged.

Misinformation has been provided stating that the County is incurring future debt loads beyond its ability to pay them.

White Pine County has taken on no debt. All capital projects that are currently underway are 100% funded with cash on hand. It is the County’s intention that future projects will continue to be funded with the available resources of the County. Any project requiring resources beyond those on hand will be carefully evaluated. Under no circumstances will the County incur debt beyond its ability to pay.

Misinformation has been provided stating that the County lacks planning in its attempt to upgrade facilities including purchasing a building to serve as the Administration Building and demolition of the Courthouse Annex.

The issues surrounding County buildings have been studied for well over a decade. Needs that have been identified include replacement of the Courthouse Annex, expansion of the Public Safety Detention Facility, improved security at the Courthouse and expansion of the Library. Progress toward facility upgrades over the years has been deferred due to lack of funding. With mining back in business in the County, the Net Proceeds of Mines revenues being generated are allowing for the needed upgrades to begin. Regular public meetings have been held by the White Pine County Building Sub Committee since October 2012. A specific plan is in place in order to address identified needs and was presented to the public at a Town Hall Meeting held on April 11, 2013. Hundreds of hours of staff time, professional architects, engineers and appraisers have been utilized in developing the facility plan. Specifically related to the new Administration Building each affected Department Head was directly involved in design of their new office space. All concur that the new building will more efficiently meet their needs.

Misinformation has been provided stating that the County is in an economic disaster.

The County’s projected ending general fund balance for the current fiscal year is $13,584,469. Of this amount, $8,000,000 is restricted for Net Proceeds Mitigation to be used only in the event of mine closures or declining revenues. This leaves an unrestricted general fund balance of $5,584,469. This is approximately 48% of the current fiscal year budget or six months of operations. The goal for many governmental entities is to have a minimum of two to three months operations in reserve. In no way can White Pine County be considered in the middle of an economic disaster.

Questions related to information presented here or other County financial matters can be directed to the White Pine County Finance Office at 801 Clark Street, Suite 5, Ely, Nevada 89301 or you may call 775-293-6508.

© 2013 The Ely Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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