Council receives clean audit for 2013

Nov. 25, 2013 @ 03:19 PM

The City of Thomasville had a good year financially.
Thomasville City Council received a clean audit report from Martin Starnes & Associates at its Nov. 16 monthly that showed the city is in good financial shape. Total income in the city's general fund increased as sales tax revenue and property tax valuation during the last budget cycle went up. The City of Thomasville's annual budget is $35.6 million.
"We did have a good year," City Manager Kelly Craver said. "Our general fund was relatively flat from the year before so we've maintained council's goal of keeping an unreserved fund balance of greater than 20 percent. Our water and sewer fund had a profitable year as well which created some additional reserves for that fund, which we need to consider for future improvements to our water and sewer system."
Thomasville's fiscal picture is much improved over a few years ago when the state threatened action if the city couldn't balance its books.
“We’re pleased to get that audit report,” Council Scott Styers said. “It has to do with a lot of things, but not the least of which has been the leadership of Raleigh York as chair personnel of the finance committee. He has been diligent in keeping our eyes on the prize when it comes to getting a fund balance established and making sure we accomplished the goals we wanted to without raising taxes.”
Craver said an improving economy and a dedicated staff committed to reaching a goal helped stabilize the city's finances.
"We did more with less and that's what it took," said Craver. "It took everybody working in concert to reach these financial goals. The growth was very slight and I think what we have seen is the economy is becoming more stable and we're seeing a small amount of growth."
One concerning deficiency in the budget is a drastic reduction in Powell Bill funds. The city received nearly $100,000 less in the state-issued funds municipalities receive for road maintenance. Powell Bill funds are collected through the state gasoline tax. High prices at the pump have resulted in people using less fuel, leading to a reduction in gas tax revenues. A city receives funding based on the number of miles of streets it maintains. 
Craver estimates the city receives approximately 30 percent less in Powell Bill funding than it did five years ago. In order to make up the loss, Craver said reserve funds are being used to maintain city streets, and those funds are running low.
"The oxymoron is gas costs more so people buy less gams meaning less Powell Bill funds," Craver said. "When gas costs more, the products to repave streets costs more. You get less money that doesn't go as far as it used to on paving. We had about $1 million [in reserve funds]. At the end of this budget year we'll have about $350,000. That has been fundamentally how we've been able to fund out repaving projects."
Winding Creek Golf Course reported a loss last budget year. Craver said that while he would like to see the golf course break even, the losses were minimal. The city earlier this year retired the debt on Winding Creek.
"The golf course experienced a bad year last year," said Craver. "It's always a concern. You want all of your funds to either break even or turn a profit. We're trying to run a business here. We want it to pull its weight as much as possible."
Several infrastructure projects are underway. Clear well roofs are being replaced at the water treatment plant on Lexington Avenue, a project Craver said is 18 years in the making. Both of the city's pump stations are undergoing renovations and Phase 1 of the Hamby Creek outfall line replacement projects has started.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or