The city of Jasper’s 2012 finances have now been finalized and were presented at the council meeting Monday night. The city’s finances, when presented in a businesslike format, show a net position of $3,991,000. That includes all assets and minus all debts. However, once adjustments were applied including the recent lawsuit the city lost, the beginning of 2013 started with a negative fund balance. The $367,366 judgment shouldn’t affect the current year’s operating budget as it was related to an event that occurred in prior years and was accounted for in that way.
Page 30 of the annual financial report addresses the litigation the city faced in which they were adjudicated to pay those damages. However, those figures may be adjusted dependent upon the outcome of the city’s appeal to the case.
One area of concern is hotel/motel ordinance compliance. The city is required to spend 66.66% to promote tourism when collecting a 6% tax. They failed to do that in 2012 by only meeting 48% of that requirement. They must correct this. Mayor John Weaver stated the new lighting on Main Street is part of the solution and are planning a New Year’s Eve Party on Main to address the problem.
Another recommendation by R.L. Jennings, the firm responsible for the city’s audit, was the accrual of vacation pay. Accountant Tom Evans reported the policy prescribes a certain rate whereas the actual rate being disbursed is above policy rules. He suggested they align those and correct either the accrual or change the policy to bring the two in line.
Chief Financial Officer Lisa Hoyle stated that the main reason for the finances being late is that the audit work wasn’t started until she took office in May. She said she’s unaware why the previous CFO hadn’t started it but that once she accepted the position she focused on the task immediately. As with all jobs, she not only had to start the process, she had to familiarize herself with city policy which also took time. Evans praised her efforts in his report saying she spent an inordinate amount of time getting the paperwork ready for the audit.
“That is a credit to Lisa and the good work she did,”
Evans said. Councilman Jim Looney and Mayor Weaver also thanked her for her dedication.
Because of the areas of concern brought about by Hoyle’s and R.L. Jennings work, a budget amendment was passed last night. Since several parks projects started late in the year and the full amount allotted wasn’t used, a total of $44,359 was removed from that budget and added into budgets with overages – mainly fleet, fire department and police department shortfalls.
The budgetary paperwork in their entirety may be seen here:
Along budgetary lines, a recommendation was made that the millage rate remain the same at 4.69%. After the required advertising period, a called meeting to set the millage was proposed for October 28 at 6 p.m. to meet the budget deadline of November 1.
In current city budget news, Hoyle reported that through September the budget should be at 75% expended but they are sitting at around 72%. She said 2-3 departments are over budget but others are under which offsets those overages and brings them in three points lower in spending at this point in the fiscal year.
In the Economic Development report, Gerry Nechvatal gave a preliminary estimate of record-breaking attendance numbers for the Marble Festival. He stated just under 8000 visited Saturday and Sunday’s event netted between 2500-3000. He said he appreciated those who focused their efforts on making the festival a success. He stated,
“A lot of people put in a lot of hard work to make that happen, from the Chamber of Commerce to volunteers and the city employees.”
Ellijay Telephone Company made a presentation to the council proposing a contract for city phone needs rather than the current service company, Windstream. They projected a few areas where Windstream falls short of services they offer and cited a monthly decrease in bills of $575.18. The council will delay any decisions as a committee was appointed to look into the two companies and see which company better meets the city’s needs. They will report back to the council in one month.
The city council meeting may be viewed here: