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County refutes Sawyers SPLOST claims
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In David Sawyer’s accounting analysis of Newton County’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and Impact Fees funds, he reported that at least $4,123,474 of SPLOST funds was used for Impact Fee fund projects.

Sawyer reported that the “funds are systematically commingled between the SPLSOT 2005 fund, the SPLOST 2011 fund and the Impact Fee fund.” That commingling, Sawyer said, could stem from the use of a pooled cash account.

However, Newton County Finance Director Nicole Cross sent an amendment to the report to Sawyer Wednesday morning.
She said that SPLOST funds received are deposited directly to the SPLOST fund bank account. A check is then written out of the pooled cash bank account. According to Cross, after the weekly check run, a transfer is then made for the total of SPLOST checks from the SPLOST bank account to the pooled cash bank account.

“As required, SPLOST revenues remain in the SPLOST fund bank account and are not commingled with other funds prior to expenditure,” Cross said.

Impact Fees, Cross said, are received in planning and development and deposited into the pooled cash account. Checks are then written out of the pooled cash bank account, and after the weekly check run, the net difference between the total Impact Fee collections minus the total of checks is transferred to the Impact Fee bank account, according to Cross.

Impact Fees revenues are placed directly into the pooled cash account, whereas SPLOST revenues are placed into the SPLOST fund bank account and then checks are written to the pooled cash account.

“Funds have never been comingled,” County Manager Lloyd Kerr said. “We sent an amendment to Frazier and Deeter explaining in detail that the SPLOST Fees were deposited into the SPLOSTFee account. A check written out of that account for cash-eligible projects and then SPLOST funds were transferred out of the SPLOST Fund account to the pool cash account.”

Sawyer’s report stated that both funds revenues are placed and taken directly from the pooled cash account.

Sawyer’s report also stated that $4,123,474 was “borrowed” from the SPLSOT 2005 fund by the Impact Fees fund.
Cross states that the list of roads the $4 million paid for were also listed in the Impact Fees Ordinance.

“Because Impact Fees were involved in litigation when the ordinance was first approved, SPLOST funds paid for all expenditures of the road projects,” Cross said.

In 2014, Cross said it was determined that the roads could also be funded by Impact Fees and a decision was made to transfer a portion of the expenses from the 2005 SPLOST to Impact Fees.

“No borrowing of funds was made before that time as described in the report,” Cross said.