Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sebree audit sees first general fund surplus since 2010

Utilities suffer “biggest loss of all time”

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
The annual Sebree city audit showed lots of ups and downs, but overall Sebree ended the 2012-2013 Fiscal year with a general fund surplus for the first time since 2010.
The bulk of the city’s revenue came from taxes, which showed an increase of $31,000 from the previous year. Property and motor vehicle tax revenue for the year actually declined, but the city saw a $28,000 increase in the insurance tax.
“You never know what the insurance tax is going to be until you get it,” said city auditor Jud Royster.
Overall expenditures for the year were down, but that data is a bit misleading. The actual drop was in the Capital Outlay funds, which are grant fueled programs for things like waterline and road repair. Sebree’s revenue for the 2011-2012 Fiscal year were considerably higher as well, due mostly to the same issue.
In all actuality the city’s expenses went up, mostly in General Governmental expenses. Those expenses saw an increase of $30,000, toping out just under $300,000, making it the second highest of the last ten years.
General government expenses have shown a steady increase over the last ten years. The 2003-2004 fiscal year showed general governmental expenses of just under $150,000.
Another costly item for the city is it’s utilities, which have shown a deficit for five consecutive years. For this fiscal year the city saw a loss of $179,000. A year ago that amount was only $93,000.
“Since 2009 you’ve had some tough times,” Royster said. $179,000 loss up from $93,000. That’s your biggest loss of all times.”
This year’s gap was so large partially because, as expenses increased, income from the utilities declined by $20,000.
“I think that is because of the way you changed billing,” Royster said. “I think with your billing changes and the increases you made to your water rates, that should correct itself.”
The utilities also saw some added expense during this fiscal year as the city purchased equipment to upgrade to radio read water meters.
The city council accepted the fiscal year audit unanimously. Council member Brenda Margelot was absent.
Members briefly discussed a waterline rehabilitation project that the city has proposed. The application is currently with the Division of Water, and the city expects to know if they’ve gotten approval this week.

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