Auditor calls Clanton’s finances ‘sound’

Published 3:46 pm Thursday, January 31, 2013

The accountant who recently audited Clanton’s finances said the city has a “sound financial picture.”

Janice Hull of Hull & Russell PC in Clanton presented an audit report to the Clanton City Council at its meeting on Jan. 28.

Clanton has more than $42 million in assets (including bank accounts, investments and capital) and about $20 million in liabilities.

“That’s good for a city the size of Clanton,” Hull said. “They have a sound financial picture.”

A good chunk of the liabilities is debt owed on two bond issues.

One bond issue, originally used for the construction of the city’s sewer plant in the 1980s, will be paid off soon, Driver said. The debt would have already been repaid except for the city refinancing a couple of times, including about 15 years ago to extend the city’s sewer system to Interstate 65 Exit 212.

“Of course, when you refinance, you can save $100,000 or so because of different interest rates,” Driver said. “You have to watch the market.”

A second bond issue was taken out for the construction of the Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center, which was built adjacent to the city’s Jefferson State Community College Campus.

The bond issue for the conference center was for about $11 million, Driver said, and it was obtained through the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education, which is who receives the city’s loan payments.

Driver said he considered Hull’s audit report “good news.”

“The thing I always ask first is, ‘Is all the money accounted for?'” he said. “Then, if there’s something that’s just in the wrong place (an item coded incorrectly in the city’s accounting system or money deposited in an incorrect account), we can go back and fix that.”

Driver said the audit, which was for the fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012, took three to four months to complete.

“You have to keep pretty detailed records,” he said.

The council unanimously approved accepting Hull’s audit report.