Sussex County marks another positive year; records $854K surplus, audit shows

Georgetown, Del., Jan. 22, 2013: Sussex County has done it again, recording another positive year that netted a modest $854,000 surplus for County taxpayers, a new audit report shows.

Sussex County Council, at its Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, meeting, accepted the Audited Financial Statements for Fiscal Year 2012 from BDO USA, LLP, a firm of licensed certified public accountants. The auditors released an unqualified report noting the financial statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position” of Sussex County as of June 30, 2012. The audit report is presented annually to detail the County government’s finances for the previous fiscal year.

For Fiscal 2012, Sussex County ended the budget year with $854,029 in revenues over expenditures, the third consecutive gain in as many years. In Fiscal 2011, the County saw a sharp increase of more than $3.4 million.

County leaders have committed approximately $320,000 of the latest surplus to pay for four additional Delaware State Police troopers that were added to the County’s contract for extra policing announced last summer. The remainder will go back to the County’s general fund and await staff recommendations to Council on how to allocate those funds.

“We’re seeing some small increases and glimmers of growth, particularly in realty transfer tax and building permits, but overall the economy is relatively flat,” said County Finance Director Susan M. Webb, who presented her final audit before retiring later this spring. “If there’s a positive to see in this, I would say it’s that the local economy is holding its own and County government’s finances are solid.”

Actual revenues were $1.4 million above budgeted revenues for Fiscal 2012, and much of that was due to higher-than-expected revenue in realty transfer taxes – half of the 3 percent levy on all property sales – and an increase in sheriff’s sales prompted by foreclosures. Those gains, however, were offset by reductions in interest income on investments, as well as the late receipt of a State grant that will be recorded in the 2013 audit. In the end, the surplus was whittled down to $854,000.

The realty transfer tax, one of the County’s most significant streams for its general fund, netted $14.3 million in Fiscal 2012. That was almost even with the previous year, but $700,000 over the budgeted amount that had been expected in FY2012.

Council President Michael H. Vincent praised the County’s financial team for another positive audit, and said the report is yet another example of the County’s consistent financial leadership and stewardship.

“A positive financial statement is always a good thing to have, and no doubt the taxpayers of this county appreciate that. It certainly makes our jobs as Council members easier,” Council President Vincent said. “But it’s not easy work, especially for our staff, to maintain this enviable position year after year. It’s their dedication, persistence, and teamwork that helps to keep Sussex County’s finances in check. This Council and the public appreciate that.”

Sussex County has submitted the 2012 audit report to the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for consideration of its Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting award. The County has received the award the past 10 years. Ms. Webb said she is optimistic the County will receive the same recognition for the Fiscal 2012 audit report.

The complete report and other information will be available on the County’s website at