The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the final post-audit budget amendments for Fiscal Year 2020.

“As a result of the audit, we have before you a budget amendment in the total amount of $2,156,252, which ironically includes a savings of reserves or increase in reserves of the general fund and the fire fund of $8,296,282, and a use of reserves in various other funds, including the grant fund, of $1,405,529,” County Manager Jerry Cooper said. “Other expenditures are covered by unbudgeted revenue totaling $4,734,401.”

According to information from the county, some of the items involved in this final budget amendment included costs for the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office being $349,907 over budget, although this was covered by CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act; county health insurance was over budget by $263,892, along with the Insurance and Benefits fund being over by approximately $3.86 million due to increased health care costs; the Fire Fund being over budget $565,834 due to one-time capital purchases and pandemic-related expenses; the E-911 fund was over by $696,379 because of one-time capital purchases; and the Jail Fund went over $380,390 due to one-time capital purchases as well. The amendment also closed out the CARES Act Fund, moving its budget back to the general fund and the fire fund based on instructions given to the county by its auditors.

Breaking down the $8.29 million being put into the reserve funds, Cooper said roughly $5.5 million would be placed in the general fund reserve, with the remainder to be given to the fire fund reserves.

“So we are actually adding substantial amounts to the reserves, primarily due to the CARES fund unbudgeted revenue?,” Commission Chairman Harry Johnston asked, with Cooper answering in the affirmative.

“It’s a legal requirement to true up these departmental budgets because they can’t be over legally, and inevitably some are, and we minimize that, or when they are, it’s for good reason. But all the same, we legally have to take action to reconcile those by amending the budget,” Johnston added.

Following the discussion, District 3 Commissioner Benny Carter put forth a motion to approve the final budget amendment, which was seconded by District 4 Commissioner Corey Ragsdale and approved in a 5-0 vote.

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