City’s finances good

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SELMA — The City of Selma has received a clean bill of financial health for fiscal 2009, which ended last September.

The auditing firm of Wilson, Price, Barranco, Blankenship & Billingsley announced the city received an unqualified audit for 2009 during a work session Monday night. Mayor George Evans made the results public Tuesday during the Selma City Council meeting.

An unqualified audit is the best opinion a governmental body can receive.

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The audit shows in 2009 the city had a positive balance of $40,333. In 2008, auditors found the city carried a $723,447 deficit from the previous administration.

“We took some measures and came out all right,” said Evans.

When the council and mayor took office, the city was left with the whopping deficit. Evans recommended layoffs of some city employees, a reduction of salaries of 12 percent with the exception of police officers and firefighters and a reduction of hours for city operations.

The council approved the measures. A majority of the council members gave up 12 percent of their salaries.

When asked about the cost-cutting measures taken by the then-new administration to undo the damage of the previous year, auditor agreed it made a difference.

“It achieved its goal in that situation,” said Billy Daniels, a representative of the auditing firm who spoke to council members Monday night during the work session.

During this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2009, the city council restored the 12 percent in salaries. Salaries make up the greater portion of the city’s budget.

And, for the first time in several months, the city saw a positive return on sales tax dollars. Evans said sales tax revenue was more than $89,000 more than collected last April. Sales tax revenue is a primary source of money to operate the general fund, which is the city’s largest fund because it’s used to operate the city.

The council has the complete figures for the audit, but the management letter, during a review, an auditor generally tests various bookkeeping standards for the public body and pulls samples to see if the body complies with state law or generally approved accounting practices.

If something is missed or if the tests show an error or raise some other concerns, the auditor usually points it out in a management letter and asks the question.

Many times, the questions are submitted when the auditor have completed their work and are putting together the audit. City officials have an opportunity to address the questions with answers before the letter is made public.