Sussex County officials say the county has “turned a corner” on the economic downturn after an independent audit shows a financial gain in 2010.
After three consecutive years of budget deficits, Sussex County posted a $618,000 surplus in revenue for Fiscal Year 2010. “Given the sobering news of the past three annual audit reports, this is fantastic news,” says County Finance Director Susan Webb. She says, “We are cautiously optimistic that brighter days are ahead, thanks in large part to our measured steps to curtail spending coupled with some glimmers of hope for a rebounding economy.”
County Council accepted the report from the accounting firm of Jefferson, Urian, Doane & Sterner at it’s public meeting today. The result is a sharp contrast to the past three years, which showed a combined deficit of nearly $8 million. While the report does show improvement, the poor housing market has taken its toll on county revenue. The revenue from realty transfer taxes is down to $13.1 million, a decrease of $479,000 from FY 2009. The year before that, realty transfer tax revenue was down 35%.
Some of the biggest gains in county revenue were also the result of a poor housing market. Because of foreclosures, revenue from sheriff’s sales was up $425,000.
County Administrator David Baker says the surplus was also helped by a reduction in spending. “General fund expenditures were $2.4 million less than the previous year. The County Council and staff deserve tremendous credit for providing county services with reduced staff and fewer funds.”
You can find the complete 188-page audit report on the county’s website at sussexcountyde.gov (PDF).