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News Release

CLERK BOCK PRESENTS YEAR-END FINANCIAL REVIEW AND OFFERS RECOMMENDATIONS TO COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

User-friendly citizens’ guide to county finances also released

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (April 20, 2010) – Palm Beach County’s revenues from property taxes and other sources declined for the second straight year as property values continued to fall. But the county’s spending remained flat, Clerk Sharon R. Bock told the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) during her annual year-end financial report.

Clerk Bock’s report, delivered Tuesday at the BCC’s regular meeting, includes detailed information about the County’s finances, from investment portfolio performance to the amount of County debt. This is the fourth year Clerk Bock has presented the BCC with the year-end review, based on the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

“This is an opportunity for the Board of County Commissioners to review its past in preparation for the future,” Clerk Bock said. “My hope is that we can stimulate a public dialogue on the County’s fiscal future before budgets are set for next year.”

Among the highlights from Clerk Bock’s report:

  • General fund tax revenue dropped by 9 percent, or $63 million, to approximately $612 million in fiscal year 2009. That’s down from $675 million in 2008 and $718 million in 2007.
  • The County’s savings account – or General Fund Balance – also declined for the second year in a row. The County’s General Fund Balance was $181 million at the end of fiscal year 2009, down 18 percent from 2008.
  • The county’s total debt – which includes bonded debt, notes, commercial paper and loans – increased last year by 21 percent, to $2.29 billion.
  • Although cash used for day-to-day operating expenses dropped by $101 million, general government expenses increased by $10 million.

Clerk Bock’s report also included several recommendations for County Commissioners for the coming year, including reviewing debt using a portfolio based approach vs. an issue by issue approach; adopting comprehensive reserve policies; adopting comprehensive fund balance policies; and consolidating all County investments into one portfolio to reduce costs and maximize interest earnings.

Also released Tuesday was the fourth edition of Checks & Balances: Your Guide to County Finances, an easy-to-read report that puts information about County revenue and spending right at citizens’ fingertips. This user-friendly guide, produced annually by the Clerk & Comptroller’s office, gives citizens helpful information to understand their County government, answering questions about how taxpayers’ money is spent, effects of the sluggish economy, the impact of tax reform, and much more. An online version of Checks & Balances, as well as the CAFR, the Year-End Financial Review presentation to the BCC and other financial information is available at www.mypalmbeachclerk.com.

The Florida Constitution established the independent office of the Clerk & Comptroller as a public trustee, responsible for safeguarding public records and public funds. Clerk Sharon Bock is directly elected by and accountable to Palm Beach County residents.  In addition to the roles of Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Recorder and Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, the Clerk & Comptroller is the Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Auditor for Palm Beach County.

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