By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY – The city’s financial audit for fiscal year 2020-21 shows that its fiber optic network fund, or broadband services fund, is on track to no longer be in deficit by the end of the year. ‘fiscal year 2022-23.
Leann Bagasala, accountant at Charlotte-based Elliott Davis PLLC, and CFO Wade Furches on Tuesday presented city council members with an audit and financial report of the city’s 2020-21 budget, which began July 1 and s ‘is extended until June 30, 2021. Bagasala said the audit âwent very wellâ in terms of communication and compliance. The firm gave the city’s audit an “unmodified opinion,” which it said is the “highest level of assurance” for the financial statements.
The only âindicator of concernâ and violation of the law was the deficit in the broadband fund. Bagasala said the Local Government Commission now requires municipal bodies to respond to such violations in writing within 60 days detailing how they plan to correct it. Bagasala said the city will continue to be flagged for the deficit until the debt is cleared.
Furches said the city generated $ 822,978 in revenue from Hotwire in 2020-21. Fiscal year 2019-20 was the first time the fund generated positive cash flow, and that amount was $ 802,201. The deficit now stands at $ 2.7 million, up from $ 4.9 million the previous year. In 2016-17, the deficit was $ 9.8 million.
With these numbers “trending in the right direction,” Furches said the city is on track to “be in the positive” by June 30, 2023, which will mark the end of the 2022-2023 fiscal year.
The City’s available fund balance, or money available for allocation from the general fund, increased for fiscal year 2020-21, reaching just over 36%. In fiscal year 2019-2020, this rate was just over 32%, compared to approximately 33% in fiscal year 2018-2019. The state requires municipalities to have at least 8% of their general fund balance, but the city’s policy is to reserve at least 25%.
After hitting that 25% target, Furches said the city’s balance of available funds was around $ 4.7 million. This is from the $ 15.1 million available to be allocated out of the total general fund amount of $ 22.09 million.
The city saw a substantial increase in revenue in the 2020-21 fiscal year compared to previous years. Furches attributes this to the proceeds of sales tax and property taxes which ended up being nearly $ 3 million more than what was budgeted. While the City’s expenses and transfers amounted to $ 41.7 million, revenues totaled $ 44.8 million. In contrast, revenues amounted to $ 42.6 million in 2019-2020, while expenditures and transfers amounted to $ 42.1 million. In 2018-2019, expenditures and transfers exceeded the City’s revenues, with $ 39.6 million in revenue available to cover $ 40.9 million in expenses and transfers.
“This financial statement still contains a warning that we don’t know what will happen as a result of COVID-19 because we are still not out of it,” Furches said. “But so far we’ve been very fortunate that our income has remained very high.”
Council member Anthony Smith said during the audit review he was “surprised” by the resilience of the city and county throughout the pandemic.
The city has used Elliott Davis for a few years now, Furches said, but the firm no longer conducts audits for government entities. The city will submit a call for tenders for a new auditor, with a forecast of a contract award in early March.
Mayor Pro Tem Tamara Sheffield was not present at Tuesday’s meeting due to a death in the family, Mayor Karen Alexander said.
Also at the meeting:
â¢ Council members approved Z-03-2021 Planning District Map Amendment to change the zoning of a 0.97 acre parcel at 1035 Mooresville Road from mixed-use neighborhood to corridor for mixed use. The request comes from Mark Kraus, owner of Integrity Auto Repair, who wants to grow his business.
â¢ Council members adopted an ordinance amending article 13-40 and article 13-41 of the City Code in order to increase the parking fine for overtime from $ 5 to $ 15 and the fine for repeat offender of $ 50 to $ 75.
â¢ Council members approved several ordinance changes to the 2021-2022 budget, including a $ 25,000 grant from the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program to fund overtime for law enforcement. the circulation ; a $ 23,960 grant from the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission to replace obsolete equipment in the reservation area, a transport chair, movable stop signs to help reduce traffic accidents in high collision areas in case of power failure, replacement Taser cartridges and digital optics; a $ 25,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to support social justice and racial equity initiatives; and $ 69,814 to the appropriate Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants for 2019, 2020 and 2021 for the purchase of a referral management system, two interactive whiteboards, a license plate reader , replacement of service pistols, lamps and gun cases, handcuffs and replacement of batons.
â¢ Board members appointed Greg Alcorn, CEO and owner of Global Contact Services in Salisbury, to the Rowan Economic Development Council. The city has two nominations, and one expired on December 31. The appointees can serve two terms.
â¢ Council members authorized Interim City Manager Brian Hiatt to enter into a contract for $ 354,364 with Level Solutions Group, LLC, for the purchase of replacement technology equipment. The equipment has reached the end of its life and the funds for this purchase have been approved in the 2021-22 budget.
â¢ The council approved ordinances modifying certain parts of the city code, in particular article 13-338 concerning prohibited parking, article 13-341 concerning parking reserved for disabled people, article 13-366 concerning loading zones and article 13-362 concerning off-street parking. Changes should match existing and updated Main Street Road Diet markings and for consistency.
â¢ Council members approved an ordinance amending section 13-336 regarding general speed limits in the city code to lower the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph in the 600 and 700 blocks of North Ellis Street .
â¢ Council members approved an ordinance amending Chapter 10, Article III of the City Code to authorize the filing of a Lis Pendens Notice or a Notice of Pending Lawsuit Regarding Property Claims, in minimum housing case.
â¢ Council members approved an encroachment of the right-of-way for Spectrum in the 100 block of South Ellis Street.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.