Panola County received an unmodified opinion, the highest level of assurance from outside auditors, for fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2021.
“This is basically what’s considered to be an unmodified opinion,” Kevin Cashion with accounting firm Gollob Morgan and Peddy, of Tyler, explained to the commissioners court as he presented the report Tuesday.
“This is a clean audit opinion,” said Cashion. “It’s the highest opinion that we can render on the financial statements for the county.”
Cashion said he, along with the firm’s senior auditor, met with the county’s auditor Jennifer Stacy to review the report in detail.
The accounting firm audited specific financial statements of governmental activities, each major fund and the aggregate remaining fund information for the county, as of and for the year ending Dec. 31, 2021.
“In our opinion the accompanying financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position of the governmental activities, each major fund and the aggregate remaining fund information of Panola County, as of Dec. 31, 2021, and the respective changes in financial position, and where applicable, cash flows thereof for the year then ended in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America,” the firm wrote.
Comparing the net position from last year to this year, Cashion pointed out that the county’s current and other assets increased approximately $6.3 million between 2020 and 2021.
“Most of that is in cash and investments, so anytime you have an increase that’s in a liquid (asset) such as cash and investments, that’s a great thing,” said Cashion. “So again, that kind of helps support the good year that you did have in 2021.”
The accounting firm noted that the change in net position for the county’s activities for the year was an increase of $1,499,395. Total revenues for Panola County were $29,814,823 and $27,782,695 in 2021 and 2020, respectively. Total expenses were $28,365,428 and $26,994,881 in 2021 and 2020, respectively.
“So your total expenses for the year went from $26.9 to $28.3. So overall, we had an increase in net position in 2020 for $787,000 and then in 2021 of $1.4 million,” Cashion told the court.
Program revenues include charges for services, fines and forfeitures, as well as both operating and capital grants and contributions. Program revenues from government activities increased 47.14 percent or $2,109,651, due primarily to County Transportation Infrastructure Fund revenue, and donations of road materials. Charges for services increased by $100,843. Operating grants and contributions increased by $1,994,492. Capital grants and contributions increased $13,316.
Auditors further noted that general revenues consist of taxes and interest not allocable to specific programs, as well as miscellaneous transactions that are not attributable to a specific program.
“The largest of these, property taxes, decreased by $5,301, primarily due to a decrease in new construction,” the accounting firm noted. “Other revenues decreased by $72,222, principally due to a decrease in interest income.”
The county’s three largest programs — public safety, public transportation and general administration — accounted for 78.99 percent of total expenses. Public transportation expenses increased by $2.8 million due to the county’s change in OPEB liability, funds expensed under the CTIF grant and other miscellaneous expenses, the auditors noted.
Cashion said the firm was required to audit funds, for compliance purposes, that were spent under the CTIF grant.
“We did not have any issues of non compliance related to those dollars,” he confirmed.
He ended the report, pointing the few discrepancies that the firm did find during the single audit in 2020 related to expenditures has now been corrected.
“Those were all taken care of by your county auditor and the various offices throughout the county,” said Cashion. “So all that has been cleaned up. Everything is in good order, so they did a great job in taking care of that.”
He thanked the county auditor and her staff for their hard work in helping furnish what they needed to complete the audit.
“You have a great county auditor and her office did a great job assisting us with the audit,” said Cashion. “We can’t put this together without them, and so we appreciate them very much.”
Following the meeting, Judge Anderson said he was glad that an audit was conducted, and looks forward to the county receiving another Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting like it has for the past decades.