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Committee airs accounting changes
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County’s finance committee discussed altering accounting policies during a budget update meeting on Wednesday.

The proposed change in reporting internal services charges for departmental and office budgets could alter the way those totals look, but not the way the money is allocated.

Internal service funds charge one department for using the services of another, such as information technology or administration.

Those charges are currently added to and taken from each of the offices’ budgets to reflect their shared contribution, said David Gruen, the county’s finance director.

"What that meant is for constitutional officers, that became part of their total budget number, which they didn’t like to the extent that it made their total budgets appear larger compared to the part that they have direct control over," Gruen said.

He proposed creating a separate area in the budget where services being paid for in the county’s general fund would be accounted.

"We’re already funding it," Gruen said. "We’re just going to move it to a different spot … and it won’t appear on [constitutional officers’] budgets."

Constitutional officers are those elected by the public, such as the sheriff, tax commissioner and clerk of court.

County offices would still need to budget for some of the costs currently covered by the charges, such as vehicle maintenance, copier leases and internal office software.

Commissioner Patrick Bell, who serves on the committee, said the changes would give constitutional officers more flexibility over their budgets.

"You can choose to use our fleet maintenance department or solicit bids," Bell said.

To consider the best possible fit, Gruen said staff compared local accounting practices with those of neighboring jurisdictions.

"We stood back and looked at does this information provide for better decision making," he said. "It was almost to the extent of why do this?"

Aside from the reporting practices, Gruen told the committee the county is on track to adopt the 2012 budget.

The projected numbers have not changed much, with the proposed general fund budget balanced at about $91.8 million.

The budget will be presented to county commissioners at a Sept. 27 work session. It will be the subject of an Oct. 6 public hearing, and could be adopted Oct. 20.