By Joe Knezevich, Citizen
The Picayune Item
Letter to the Editor,
In 1946, a private group in Chicago called the Government Financial Officers Association established CAFR as a complete accounting record for local governments. In 1978, CAFR was made mandatory for all local government by the Federal government. Publicly traded corporations are required, by law, to produce an Annual Financial Report (AFR) each year and to provide the information to all share-holders. A corporation withholding AFR information from share-holders would soon find itself in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission. So, why are government CAFRs routinely covered up by the political establishment? A CAFR is produced by every state and local government but no municipal, county, state or national politician refers to it or mentions it in budget debates and news media never address the issue.
In September, the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors will have meetings and debates to address the Budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year. All the public will see is a snapshot of planned expenditures and the “required” tax revenue for that one year. The CAFR, however, is not a one year projection but a cumulative accounting of all assets, investments and income. According to data from the 2009 report, Pearl River County has net assets of $51,032,910 including $10,658,895 cash. None of these assets will be considered as a means to reduce the tax burden on county citizens.
We are also told that the proposed $15,400,000 Courthouse Annex project, the need of which is another subject, will require additional tax revenue. It would seem prudent to liquidate underutilized assets, like the old Movie Star building, and to use existing cash to fund any more construction projects before increasing the tax burden on citizens. During an informational meeting on the Annex project it was stated that an increase of $30 in property tax for every $100,000 assessed value would be required. (The additional cost to furnish, insure, operate and maintain the building was not discussed.) The cost of gasoline and food is rising dramatically and many citizens are paying an additional $30 per week or more for gas and face similar increases in food costs. Every means to reduce the size, scope and cost of county government should be explored and plans for additional buildings minimized before demanding more from those who pay property taxes.