Audit shows town finances in good shape

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By David Meade

During their meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council heard an audit report that shows the town is in very good financial condition, with the general fund increasing by $360,000. Water and Sewer funds are also in good financial shape auditors said.

Auditor Ken Meadows, of Greene, Finney and Horton, CPA firm, said the town’s fund balance increased from $1.4 million in 2013 to almost $1.77 milllion in 2014. “It is a nice reversal of the trend over the last few years,” he told Council.

Total revenues for the town were $2,612,000. Total expenditures were $2,352,000.

The town saw an increase in franchise fees, property taxes and resource officer fees to help with a $131,000 increase in revenues.

Property taxes were $64,000 more than budgeted, hospitality tax revenues were $31,000 more than budgeted and franchise fees were $66,000 more than budgeted.

On the expenditure side, the town saw a decrease in expenditures in public safety (police department) of $139,000 and public works of $33,000.

The town came in $273,000 under budget in general government ($146,000); public works ($38,000); and recreation ($71,000). Other department’s expenditures also came in slightly under budget auditors said.

The town’s water fund had revenues of $1,020,000, an increase of $58,000.

Expenses for the department were down, $762,000 compared to $884,000 in 2013.

Sewer operating revenues of $1,128,000 were also up by $58,000 over 2013. Operating expenditures were up $257,000, mainly due to a different allocation in the figures of where employees are actually spending their time, auditors said.

The department saw an increase in the unrestricted net position of $159,000, which the auditors said was the first positive unrestricted net post in several years. It’s nice to see you are catching that up,” Meadows said.

“Obviously that is very good news to hear,” Councilman Rockey Burgess said. “ We may differ from time to time, but I give the mayor credit for having a surplus at the end of the year.”

Mayor Mack Durham said the surplus was due to the accountability of the town’s department heads especially in the police department which “has traditionally been thousands of dollars over budget. We have made tremendous strides.”

In other business, council unanimously decided not to accept the offer of several lots on Shirley Drive being donated to the town. Mayor Durham said, “It is not a great benefit for the town to take on delinquent properties.”

Councilman Rockey Burgess brought back up a proposal to allow a $10 credit to residents and businesses and a $25 credit to restaurants. As an alternative, the mayor had suggested providing a filtration pitcher to residents at a cost of $8 each. Burgess said he would like for residents to decide how to spend the refund and they could buy the pitchers if they wanted to. The motion by Burgess to provide the credit died for lack of a second.

Council approved Request for Qualifications (RFQ) forms to be sent out to businesses for nuisance abatement. Businesses interested in performing the work will have to be insured and purchase a business license if they are approved for a job.

Council unanimously agreed to allow the Williamston Historic Commission to present a proposal to them regarding a historic trail in the vicinity of Gossett Drive.

Council unanimously approved a RFQ for the Master Plan as presented by the Planning Commisssion.

They also approved a request brought up at the last meeting by the Historic Commission to allow the Anderson County Museum to house certain museum items.

Council considered the Gray Drive Bridge issue again.

Resident Pamela Owens said the issue has not been pushed recently and nothing was being done. She said she is bringing it up again and asked council’s support in gettting the bridge replaced.

Council decided to allow $400 for candy for Boo in the Park to go to the Williamston Historic Commission to be given out in the Scout Hut.

The approval came after Pamela Owens requested an increase from $200 to $300. Councilman Otis Scott made a motion to increase it to $400. The funding will come out of $1000 already funded for candy for the event which will be held Nov. 1.

Council approved a proclamation designating Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week.

Mayor Mack Durham read a statement by Christmas Parade Chairman Walter Smith. In the statement, Smith said due to health reasons he may not be able to be as involved in planning the parade this year. Smith has organized the parade for 23 years.