Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

February 15, 2013

Jacksonville city audit indicates less debt and more revenue

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — An independent financial audit the City Council heard and approved this week indicates good news – that debt is down and revenue is up in Jacksonville.

The positive upswing was related to the council Tuesday by Tal Glenn of Henry & Peters, PC. But it doesn't mean cash flow into the city has drastically increased.

No, this is the result of city officials having made a very conscious effort in recent years to raise reserves and discharge debt, according to Finance Director Freddy Thomas and City Manager Mo Raissi.

Lowering the debt took time but in less than 10 years it was halved, officials said. In 2002, Thomas said, the city was close to $20 million in debt. As of Sept. 30, that amount was $10 million.

Additionally, city officials are taking measures to not incur any more debt. Raissi said a urgent utility fund capital project is expected to help supplement city projects in the future so no loans have to be solicited.

"We're simply setting the money aside for further water and sewer projects – instead of borrowing it,"  Raissi said.

This independent auditor's report for the previous fiscal year was summarized and explained to the council by Glenn for roughly 20 minutes Tuesday evening. The council then formally accepted the results of the audit by unanimous vote.

The Henry & Peters, PC audit cost the city a little over $42,500. The company has been performing this task for the past seven or so years, officials said.

Some highlights:

• As of Sept. 30, the city's governmental funds had ending balances of $4,485,163 which constitutes an increase of $460,099 as opposed to the previous fiscal year.

• The city's general fund balance in particular increased by $159,068 for this fiscal period that ended Sept. 30.

• The city's long-term debt decreased by $392,355 during the current fiscal year.

As he read the report to the council, Glenn noted that the most significant governmental expenses for the city were public safety — for which the city spent $5,136,239, an increase of 4.66 percent or $228,557.

Expenses, or business-type, activities amounted to $3,838.053 for the year – resulting in income of  $2,054,784 before transfers to the city's general fund.

The most significant utility fund expenses were for salaries and benefits, electricity, and repairs and maintenance, reports show.

The city's governmental funds had a balance in the report of $4,485,163, which included an increase in fund balance of $159,068 in the city's general fund and $301,031 in the city's debt service and non-major funds, according to the report.

For fiscal year 2012, actual expenditures in the general fund were $9,103,519, compared to the budget amount of $9,377,204, constituting a positive difference of $273,685, the report shows.