sharon gillespie

Sharon Gillespie presenting the annual audit report to the Avery County Board of Commissioners. The report was clean with no journal entries.

NEWLAND — Avery County received a clean audit from Young, Miller and Gillespie, an accounting firm based out of Spruce Pine that has audited the county for the past few years.

Local government entities like counties and municipalities are required to undergo annual audits. This audit covered the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which ended this summer.

Sharon Gillespie presented the audit to the Avery County Board of Commissioners at its latest regular meeting on Nov. 4.

Gillespie noted the finances of the county were in good standing with regard to operating funds and fund balance, and made a point of telling the commissioners she had not had to make any journal entries as part of the audit, while for some audits there could be pages of entries.

Gillespie said not having to make those notes meant the commissioners had received accurate financial information over the course of the year.

The county has a nearly $30 million budget which encompasses the sheriff’s office, tax office, board of elections, administration, the Department of Social Services, emergency management and more.

One item that Gillespie mentioned on the budget was the high school renovation project, which had to be noted separately due to its magnitude. The project is planned to cost about $20 million.

In other news:

  • The commissioners approved giving Sheriff Kevin Frye the power to pay reserve officers on a range rather than a set fee, something Frye noted would make reserve work for the county more competitive with other local entities and potentially save the county money on overtime expenses.
  • Abigail Swanger gave a presentation on WAMY Community Action’s programs in Avery County, which includes its after school programs that serve nearly 300 children. Swanger noted the importance of federal funding for programs provided by organizations like WAMY and the organization’s recent acquisition of a new passenger van via a grant from High Country Charitable Foundation.
  • County Manager Philip Barrier noted another 50 customers now have broadband access in the Pineola area thanks to a grant that allowed more infrastructure to be installed in the area. More service area is expected to be added.
  • The county received two insurance settlements for a pair of total losses on sheriff’s office vehicles. A 2016 Ford Explorer paid out $16,386.83 and a 2013 Ford Explorer paid out $11,156.33.

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