Forsyth County expects a refund of more than $523,000 from an office of state government to arrive next month.
Interim director Kent Dayton said the local Department of Family and Children Services had excess money from the county, which it had received over the years, tucked away in a reserve account.
“To cut to the chase, what I would like to do, and what I’m proposing to do, is returning approximately $523,500 to Forsyth County,” Dayton told commissioners during a work session Tuesday.
Commissioner Pete Amos responded simply, “Well, thank you.”
DFCS receives funding from the county, state and federal governments. Dayton said the local office's annual budget totals about $6 million.
Local funding to the department had been $300,000 annually until 2010, when the county reduced it to $130,000 at the suggestion of county DFCS's board chairwoman.
Dayton said $160,000 is what’s needed from the county on average, though the operating costs can vary greatly depending on the number of children in the system.
Since about 1995, the remainder of the $300,000 granted each year had been accumulating in reserves, Dayton said.
In 2007, DFCS moved to a regional accounting system from a county-based one.
“In this tight budget, I’d like to thank you and commend you for your honesty,” Commissioner Jim Boff said. “I wish we had found this sooner, but I want to thank you for letting us know at all.”
It was not made clear during the meeting when the department realized that excess county funds were available in reserves.
Dayton did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking clarification.
County officials did not discuss what they were going to do with the money.
Following the commissioners’ 5-0 vote to accept the refund, DFCS also asked for $42,000 in funding to cover that shortfall for the remainder of the calendar year.
In 2012, Dayton said, the county can “start fresh” with an appropriate amount of funding.
County funding supplements income for caseworkers, provides additional allowance for necessities and partially funds two positions split with the state.