County Adopts New Financial Standards

The county commission today discussed and approved new accounting standards for the next budget year that will adopt a more standard accounting methodology, making comparisons with peer counties possible (perhaps). For a full description, CLICK HERE.

Highlights included:

  • Adoption of GASB 54, reporting spendable fund balances in 4 categories, possibly providing more transparency. During the discussion it was stated that since Hillsborough is already using this standard, it was not possible for TaxWatch (or anyone else apparently) to compare the currently reported Palm Beach County reserves to theirs. John Wilson mentioned they have had numerous discussions with TaxWatch on the subject since the budget hearings and that TaxWatch now “understands” their reserves, but the county is going back and looking at each capital project balance in more detail.
  • Adoption of a “target” debt limit of $1200 per capita (which we are very close to at the present time). This is county only, not including SWA bonds. Additionally, debt service payments, exclusive of general obligation and self-supporting debts, will be no more than 5% of governmental expenditures.
  • A policy proposal to consider voted General Obligation bonds over non-voted revenue bonds for future borrowing. As you might expect, this was not very popular but Steve Abrams suggested that projects could be “bundled” to make them more attractive to the voters. Karen Marcus indicated that was done in the past for Parks and Recreation.
  • A non-specific proposal for departmental “Performance Measures” that could be used to compare to outsourcing alternatives and aid in evaluating department requests for increased funding. Bob Weisman suggested that there already were measurements in place but several commissioners were outright skeptical. Commissioner Vana thought that we can only take “baby steps” in this direction, but that measurements could also be used to consider “in-sourcing” tasks where the county can do it much better than a vendor. No examples were given.