WCESD #4 Commissioners adopt financial policy

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By WAYLON CUNNINGHAM

An official investment policy has been adopted by the Williamson County Emergency Service District #4, in compliance with Texas Government Code on public investments. The policy formally outlines the district’s existing financial procedures.

Liberty Hill Fire Chief Anthony Lincoln said that the policy articles written by the department’s attorneys are “fairly boilerplate,” and cover everything from securities to insurance and collateral prices. The text, he said, is already used by many other emergency service districts.

The move comes after the district’s annual audit, which was also presented in the same meeting Monday night.

Robert Belt from Belt Harris Pechacek, LLP, the same accounting firm used by the City of Liberty Hill, said that no irregularities were found, and that the district appears to be in good financial health.

Lincoln said that the department already acts in complete compliance with government code, but that audits are one area out of several in which a formal investment policy would help in the future.

The policy, he said, is a “formal adoption of how we do business.”

“Auditors always ask for our investment policy, and as we work on getting the funds for the new station, creditors are going to ask about it,” he said.

To date, the district has only had one investment. Last year the district moved $500,000 into a certificate of deposit. But Lincoln said that more could be expected moving forward as plans for expansion progress.

Funding for the district’s second fire station, set to open in the summer of 2018, has not yet been secured.

Belt reported that the district had an “excellent” fund balance, which is associated with the amount of days that the district could continue operating if it stopped collecting any additional revenue. The district holds close to a year’s worth of funds for operational expenses.

Though unusual, Belt said, those savings will become useful as the district, which services 128 square miles in Williamson County, sees a rapid population growth.

Belt suggested the department look at drafting a three- to five-year plan for the future.

“You’re going to want to start earmarking designations for improvements,” he said.

The only abnormalities reported by the auditor were three missing receipts totaling $105, which Lincoln said might have been lost in the City’s move to a new administration building. The City has a contract with the WCESD#4 to handle its bookkeeping.

“Stuff happens sometimes,” said Belt.

The new investment policy does carry with it at least two changes.

The first would be a new quarterly financial report, on top of the current annual report. This would provide the district a more frequently updated overview of its finances, such as revenue sources, debts on particular buildings, and payments remaining on said loans.

The second change is that an Investment Officer would be required. Board Commissioner Keith Bright, who currently serves as the District’s treasurer, volunteered for the required training to assume the title.

Bright made the final motion to adopt the policy, which was passed unanimously by the three other Commissioners.

The district has used nearly 38 percent of its roughly $2.5 million budget. March marks the halfway point for the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 31.

Board meetings for the WCESD #4 occur every third Monday. The next meeting has been set for May 15.

Waylon@LHIndependent.com

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