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March 18, 2011

County AAA Bond Rating Affirmed

Moody’s Investor’s Service has affirmed the County’s AAA bond rating. The rationale for affirming the rating includes the County’s healthy financial position despite some use of reserves, positive steps taken to stabilize and improve reserve levels, and effective efforts to reduce the County’s above average debt profile.

The report cites the County’s effective financial management as credit strength, as well as adequate reserves and a substantial tax base with healthy wealth indices. Moody’s expects the financial position of the County to stabilize due to aggressive steps taken to manage budget gaps through expenditure reductions, effective management of the use of reserves, and a continued commitment to reducing a reliance on reserves.

The report also highlights the steps the County has taken to manage its debt profile, including a temporary hold on borrowing, recommending a debt service fund, and conservative budgeting employed by the County to mitigate the potential volatility associated with variable rate debt.

Moody’s also cites those factors that could put downward pressure on our rating. These factors include a further reduction in revenue due to a prolonged economic downturn, a significant reduction of general fund balance, and unbudgeted pressure associated with volatility in interest rates that would impact variable rate debt.

Overall, the report is extremely positive and reflects the fiscal discipline the County has taken to manage its financial position during difficult economic conditions.

Information on our bond rating from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s is expected soon.   

Board members with questions about the County’s bond rating should contact Finance Director Dena Diorio at 704-336-2228 or via email.

Internal Audit Reports

Last November, Board members were informed in the Board Bulletin about procedure changes for making internal audit reports available to the Board and public.  The new procedures will be implemented beginning with the next internal audit report as follows: 

  • Once internal audit reports are completed, Internal Audit Director Joanne Whitmore (formerly Joanne Prakapas) will email these to the Board members and Ward Simmons, the public member of the Audit Review Committee. 
  • At the subsequent meeting of the Audit Review Committee, the reports distributed since the previous Committee meeting will be on the Committee’s agenda for any questions and/or discussion.
  • In addition to providing the internal audit reports to the Board via email, the reports will be posted on the County’s website on the Open Mecklenburg: Transparency in Government page of the County’s home page.

As a reminder, the Internal Audit reports will include the following:

  • Internal Audit’s findings
  • Any recommendations Internal Audit provides to address specific findings
  • The audited department management’s response to the findings and recommendations, including any actions taken to address the findings
  • The County Manager’s response to all of the above.

It is a reasonable expectation that internal audit reports will identify areas of effectiveness and efficiency as well as processes, internal controls and other findings that need to be changed, improved and/or fixed.  This is why internal audits (and audits conducted by our external auditor) are performed -- to validate operational excellence and to identify and fix problems, so we can improve compliance and efficiency, mitigate risk, and ensure accountability.

Board members with questions about the procedure for distributing internal audit reports should contact Internal Audit Director Joanne Whitmore at 704-336-2575 or via email (email address change is pending).

CJCAC Completes Annual Report

The Criminal Justice Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CJCAC) presented its 2011 Annual Report to the Board’s Criminal Justice Committee in March.  The document contains five findings and corresponding recommendations.  Areas of focus included chronic offenders, information technology, crime statistics, interagency cooperation, and property crime reporting.  A common theme in the recommendations is that the criminal justice system must improve communication between agencies and the public to encourage greater cooperation thereby increasing efficiency and improving public safety. 

The purpose of the CJCAC is to give a voice to the community in shaping the criminal justice system and to advise the Board of County Commissioners.  The Committee meets monthly and routinely invites guest speakers, such as the chiefs of police, to present information on topics of interest.  Members include representatives from the six districts, the bar association, school system, and faith community.

The Board will receive a presentation from Committee Chair Mark Sumwalt in April. To access the CJCAC annual report, click the link above.  

Board members with questions should contact General Manager Michelle Lancaster via email or 704-336-2621.

Invitation to Tour MEDIC

As Board members are aware, MEDIC is a separate government entity created by inter-local agreement between Mecklenburg County and Carolinas Healthcare System to provide Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for Mecklenburg County.  MEDIC is governed by a seven-member board with three members selected by Carolinas Healthcare, three members selected by Novant and one member selected by the Board of County Commissioners.  MEDIC is nationally recognized for its work in pre-hospital care and a state-of-the-art emergency medical education and simulation center.     

MEDIC is inviting Board members for a one-hour tour of its Statesville Avenue facility.  To facilitate a personalized tour, MEDIC would like to limit each tour to no more than two commissioners at a time.  MEDIC staff has scheduled four opportunities for these tours but will arrange a different time, if these appointments are inconvenient for Board members.

  • Tuesday, April 5, 1:30pm – 2:30pm
  • Wednesday, April 6, 10:00am – 11:00am
  • Tuesday, April 26, 1:30pm – 2:30pm
  • Wednesday, April 27, 3:00pm – 4:00pm

To schedule a tour, Board members should contact Assistant to the County Manager Brian Francis via email or 704-336-2611.

-- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager

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