Audit shows details of town finances

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By David Meade – For fiscal year 2011-12, the Town of Williamston was over budget in the police department, yet still under budget in the general fund and on target for the water fund. The sewer fund reflected grant/loan revenues and expenses associated with the wastewater treatment plant upgrade.

During their annual audit report Monday, Williamston officials were told that even though the town has seen a decrease of $152,000 in the fund balance since last year, it still remains “a strong fund balance.”

According to auditor Larry Finney, of the Accounting Firm of Greene, Finney and Horton, the town has a healthy general fund, is in good shape in the water fund but needs improvement in the sewer fund.

According to the report, the town’s fund balance decreased from $1,614,000 in June of 2011 to $1,462,000 in June, 2012. Of that, 51 percent, or $1,381,000, is unassigned.

General Fund revenues were up by $118,000 due primarily to an increase in grant revenue.

Property taxes were down by $6,000; franchise fees down by $14,000; licenses and permits up by $1,000; sanitation fees down by $4,000, hospitality taxes up by $3,000. Other sources were up by $138,000 including fines, intergovernmental and grants.

General fund expenditures were actually down by $39,000 from 2011. Expenditures for 2011 were $2,764,000 compared to $2,724,000 for 2012.

The decrease was caused by lower governmental expenses by $62,000 and lower capital outlay of approximately $27,000 .

The decrease was offset by higher public safety (police department) expenses of $26,000 and higher recreation expenses of $33,000.

Expenditures exceeded revenues by $310,000 in 2011 and $152,000 in 2012.

According to Finney, the 2013 budget already has budget expenditures exceeding revenues by $230,000.

On a positive note, the town took in $300,000 more in revenues than budgeted, primarily to higher property tax collections at $41,000 more than budgeted, E-Fund grants of $134,000 which was $98,000 more than budgeted.

Other revenues were seven percent more than budgeted, amounting to $161,000.

The audit shows actual revenues of $2,572,000 to budgeted revenues of only $2,272,000.

Expenditures of $2,724,000 however, were over budget by $205,000.

Increased salaries and wages in the police department amounted ti budgeted overages of $235,000.

Overages in general government operations were $92,000 due to higher operating expenses.

The town was under budget in capital outlays of $42,000 and recreational expenditures by $90,000 mainly from lower than budgeted operating expenditures.

WATER FUND

Williamston’s water fund had revenues of $1,012, which were down $18,000 from the previous year.

Expenses were $1,000 less resulting in a net income of $186,000 for the water fund.

Net assets increased by $186,000, from $2,189,000 in 2011 to $2,375,000 in 2012.

SEWER FUND

The town’s sewer fund revenues of $1,158,000 were down significantly from $3.1 million in 2011 reflecting the grant/loan the town received for work on the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). According to the report, the town had $46,000 in grant revenue for the sewer department this year

Recurring sewer charges (billings) of $992,000 were up by $222,000 reflecting an RUS mandated increase in the sewer rates to help pay back the loan on the WWTP upgrade.

Sewer expenses of $1,011,000 were up from $704,000 in 2011. The increase of $307,000 was due to an increase in operating costs related to the wastewater treatment plant.

The sewer fund had net income of $147,000 for 2012. According to the report, the fund would have shown a $62,000 loss without the prior year grant revenue.

Net assets of $5,934,000 reflected an increase of $147,000 from 2011.

The Sewer Fund does have a deficit of $534,000, which is an increase of $397,000 over 2011.

The deficit is the result of expenses associated with the WWTP upgrade.

Finney recommended a higher fund balance for the fund which he said will take awhile, probably about four years.

Based on the government wide full accrual basis the town had revenues of $4.7 million to expenses of $4.5 million.

Total assets amount to $16.4 million. Total liabilities amount to $4.5 million. Net assets (equity) amounts to $11.9 million.

The town’s outstanding long term obligations decreased by $320,000 to $3,855,000.

The town’s water and sewer bond which was refinanced in 2002, has a balance of $126,000 and will be paid off in 2013.

The current bond for the WWTP upgrade is $3,690,000 and will mature in 2051.

Town employees have $39,000 in earned vacation time which has not been taken.

Capital assets include $329,000 left in the WWTP upgrade project fund and the town paid $150,000 cash for the recent purchase of Milliken property.

Other positives reflected in the audit:

The town has completed construction of the new wastewater treatment plant and is now operatingunder a DHEC operating permit.

The town had a CDBG grant of $448,000 to upgrade sewer lines.

The audit reports significant improvement in financial reporting since the last audit according to Finney.