By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- Pike County boosted its bottom line but still finished the past fiscal year in the red.
The annual audit report presented Monday showed the county's overall assets dipped $143,045 for the year ending Nov. 30. A year ago, the total dropped $471,000.
"You've gotten better this year compared to last year," said auditor Cindy Foote with Jacksonville-based Zumbahlen, Eyth, Surratt, Foote and Flynn Ltd.
But Foote stressed the need to keep a close eye on spending because "you don't know when you'll get money from the state."
In the general fund, the county's largest, revenue for the year totaled $3,934,204, about $380,000 more than last year. Expenses were $4,144,837, up $236,000.
Other audit highlights included:
º The county still owes $427,994 on a loan to renovate the former First Bank into the government center. The loan is scheduled to be repaid in 2019.
º The county received $2,076,458 in federal funds for the year.
º The county's equalized assessed valuation for 2011 was $190,912,293, up 3 percent over 2010.
Foote said the year-end fund balance of $1,185,436 is a three-month reserve. Last year the county had a four-month reserve. Auditors typically recommend keeping a six-month reserve, but Foote said that is rarely seen now because of the economy.
Foote continued recommending the county segregate duties, wherever possible, for greater oversight of funds and encouraged the county to look at establishing procedures for how to use, and who can use, county credit/debit cards along with having the treasurer coordinate with all county offices to ensure cash accounts are properly reported.
In other action, the Pike County Board:
º Heard from board member Dan Mefford about a proposed self-defense and firearms freedom ordinance. The board will review the proposal for a month, with discussion slated for March.
º Heard the Labor Committee met Feb. 5 with a federal mediator on the contract with the Operating Engineers Local 965, which represents courthouse and government building employees. The contract covering 20 employees in the county clerk, supervisor of assessments, state's attorney and circuit clerk offices expired Nov. 30.
Arbitration is set for 8 a.m. May 14 with ambulance employees.
º Learned Animal Warden Debbie Lambeth and board member Fred Bradshaw met with Pittsfield Mayor John Hayden to review needed repairs at the animal shelter.
º Agreed to send a letter to Nebo resident Sheldon Howland, giving him until April 30 to move a woodburning stove to the west or south away from county right-of-way. The stove sits on the right-of-way for County Highway 10.
º Approved a contract with Ameren Energy Marketing, which will lower electric rates for the county.