Ranch figures dont match

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 2, 2007

GREENSBORO &8212; The financial records for the Farquhar State Cattle Ranch held at the ranch and those held by the Department of Corrections, after revising several items found amiss in the original numbers, still do not match.

The press office of Gov. Bob Riley, who along with Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen announced the sell of the ranch in a press conference on July 11, released the line item financial records last week for the ranch , which were used to decided its finnancial viability in regards to a sell. Yet large discrepancies still remain between the numbers held by Riley and Allen and those at the ranch itself, which were obtained from a source speaking on conditions of anonymity.

Though the original records obtained from the ranch omitted salaries and benefits of employees at the ranch, two items included in the numbers

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released by the governor&8217;s office were the only figures in the line item report that matched the records at the ranch, the anonymous source confirmed with additional financial figures. The original estimates for salaries and benefits by the ranch were lower than the numbers recently obtained, which showed they averaged $296,053.90 for the 2003-2006 fiscal years.

Yet, even with new figures, the records held at the ranch show that the facility posted a $145,577.98 combined profit for the 2003-2006 fiscal years. The numbers released by the governor&8217;s office, though, show that the facility, during the same time period, posted a combined loss of $175,723.12, a difference of $321,301.10.

The Department of Corrections figures showed the ranch posted a profit in fiscal year 2004 of $178,690.50, while posting fiscal year losses of $66,209.33 in 2003, $139,567.35 in 2005 and $148,636.94 in 2006.

With the new salary figures, the ranch records, too, show a loss in two of the past four completed fiscal years, a loss of $43,578.67 in 2003 and $20,519.82 in 2006, while posting fiscal year profits of $189,544.40 in 2004 and $20,132.07 in 2005.

Sources at the ranch said these losses could be reversed and profits increased by fully utilizing the ranch&8217;s acreage for cattle, which need approximately five acres of grazing land apiece a year, and providing water pumps to fill four ponds that are currently up to date yet out of production from lack of water, which could be completed for under $30,000. Repairing other ponds on the premises and adding them to production will further increase profits, sources said.

The ranch sources also said that the numbers used to compile site&8217;s financial records were all sent to the Department of Corrections during each fiscal year.

Riley and Allen stated at the press conference announcing the sale that only state lands that were a drain on taxpayers and had a previous interest expressed in their purchase would be sold. The two said money generated by the sale of the ranch and the four other properties listed at the press conference would go toward the more than $90 million in capital improvement projects for Alabama Department of Corrections facilities.

Riley and Allen said all property that will be sold will be appraised, advertised and sold to the highest bidder. The sales will be handled by the Alabama Department of Conservation&8217;s State Lands Division, which also handled the previous sale of 540 acres at the ranch.