Williamston hears audit report, purchases College Drive properties

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By David Meade
Williamston Town Council heard their annual audit report, were introduced to the new Envision Williamston Executive Director and authorized the purchase of properties on College Drive during their meeting Monday.
Envision Williamston Board Vice Chair Marion Williams introduced Tony Brown, who was recently selected as the new Executive Director for the Envision Williamston main street program.
Williams said Brown has a wealth of knowledge about non-profits and stood out among the candidates for the position. “We had a good response and some very excellent applicants,” he said. “Tony was the consensus for the top candidate. We are looking forward to having him as our executive director.”

(Pictured left) – EW Executive Director Tony Brown was introduced to Town Council Monday.

Ten year old Novah Simpson was recognized as a Home Town Hero during the meeting. Elizabeth Cooley of Modern Woodmen of America made the presentation in front of the council.

Novah is the daughter of Corey and Aletha Simpson and her grandmothers are Jennifer Williams and Dorothy Smith. She is a fifth grader. Novah was recognized for her extra curricular activities, community involvement and for having all A’s and perfect attendance since her Palmetto Elementary School career. “Our goal is to put back and give to the community,” Cooley. The organization recently assisted with a Book Bags on Patrol initiative sponsored by the Williamston Police Department. Cooley said the organization will make a donation to a project or organization chosen by Norah.

Auditor Ken Meadows of Greene, Finney LLP, reported the town received an “Unmodified Opinion on their recently completed audit, which he said, “Is the best you can get and the one you usually get.”

Meadows said the fund balance increased by $225,000, from $1.975 million to $2.23 million. The fund balance represents 69 percent of actual 2019 expenditure and 73 percent of 2020 budgeted expenditures, Meadows said. “The GFOA recommends a minimum of 16.7 percent, or about two months,” he said.
General Fund revenues for 2019 were $3,336,000, an increase of $123,000 from 2018. Meadows said the increase was from property taxes, franchise fees, licenses and permits and an increase in the sanitation fee which brought in an additional $43,000.
Revenues were $446,000 more than budgeted, due to a conservative budget with property taxes $31,000 over budget,

Expenditures decreased from 2018. Expenditures for 2019 amounted to $3,081,000, a decrease of $345,000 from last year. The audit showed decreased expenditures for public safety, general government, public works, recreation and debt service.
According to Meadows, two areas saw increased expenditures. General government increased by $39,000 and Public safety increased by $83,000. Areas showing decreases included recreation decreasing by $51,000; capital outlay by $406,000 and debt service decreasing by $26,000.

Even though they decreased, some expenditures were still overbudget including recreation being $26,000 over budget and general government $192,000 over budget. Public Works came in $39,000 under budget.

The Water Fund showed an increase in revenues and a decrease in expenses.
Operating revenues increased from $1,102,000 to $1,120,000. Operating expenses dropped from $954,000 for 2018 to $857,000 for 2019. The Water Fund saw a change in net position of $671,000, and has a fund balance of $3,528,000, with $2,150,000 in net investment in capital assets.

The Sewer Fund had operating revenues of $1,135,000 for 2019, a bit less than the $1,168,000 taken in in 2018. Operating expenses were also up, primarily due to increase in repairs and maintenance of $99,000. Operating expenses were up from $1,102,000 in 2018 to $1,161,000 in 2019.
The fund showed an operating loss of $27,000 and a change in net position with a decrease of $120,000. The total net position stands at $6,990,000.
The Town’s total outstanding long term debt decreased by $229,000 to $4,689,000.
Total yearly payments on the sewer revenue bonds, water meter upgrade and a firetruck amount to $364,000.

Meadows reported one material weakness in the audit. The armory building, which was donated to the town in 2014, was not recorded in the town’s capital assets. A prior period adjustment was made to get it on the books.
The management letter also referenced the purchase of a truck without council approval. Meadows said the purchase fell under an emergency purchase. The plumbing truck, costing $38,584, was purchased to replace a similar high-mileage truck that needed repairs. Given the age and mileage of the broken truck, the Town decided that it would be best replace the older truck with a new one rather than repairing the broken truck.

In summary, Meadows said the General Fund and the Water Fund are in “very good financial condition” and the Sewer Fund in in “adequate financial condition.”

(See separate story for additional audit details)

Williamston Mayor Mack Durham said, “I am really happy with the audit and with the reserves we have in our funds. I appreciate all the work our department heads are doing. We are in great shape with reserves and are investing in the community.” He said, “We are keeping a healthy amount in our reserves for future infrastructure needs.”
“The community can look forward to some paving and infrastructure improvement with federal grants and we are being fiscally responsible for the town.”

Council approved second reading to revoke the current town employee manual. They later approved a resolution to adopt a revised and updated town employee manual. Mayor Durham said the old town employee manual needed to be updated and replaced, which only needed a resolution.
Council also approved a resolution to dedicate the West Main Pocket Park to town employee Chris Coleman who died unexpectantly Sept. 18. The mayor said Coleman was dedicated to improving and beautifying the town and was a hard worker. The resolution also recognized the work of other town employees and the inspiration Coleman gave to them. Members of Coleman’s family were in attendance.

Council also approved the purchase of seven parcels on College Drive from Dontonia Hagood for the price of $10,000. Councilman Tony Hagood abstained from the vote. Mayor Durham said the parcels are a key piece of property located adjacent to town property and the old water plant property. He said it the property will be discussed in upcoming planning sessions.
Council also authorized up to $10,000 for an updated comprehensive plan to be put together by the Appalachian Council of Governments ACOG. Council and members of the town’s planning commission recently met with Chip Bentley of ACOG to discuss the comprehensive plan update.
Durham said the planning commission had asked that the town move forward as soon as possible on updating the comprehensive plan. He said they could begin as soon as January.