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Jemison Council reviews audit report

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Jemison City Council reviewed its audit for the 2018 fiscal year during a meeting on Aug. 19.

The audit report was presented by certified public accountant Howey McNeill.

McNeill said the report was positive for the city.

The city had a combined asset total (governmental budget and water/sewer budget) of $7.7 million. Combined liabilities for the city were listed at $8.2 million.

The general fund balance was $542,362 with the special revenue and capital projects funds having a balance of $52,444 and $293,817 respectively.

Revenues to the general fund and special revenue funds increased $120,000 from the previous fiscal year.

At first glance, the report has some numbers in the net position that can seem concerning.

The total net position for the city appears to be a negative number. However, this is because a bond that had previously been in the water/ sewer budget, which is treated as a separate entity, was moved into the governmental budget. Water and sewer are separate because it is run as a business on fees, not tax revenue like the governmental side.

“As we worked with the financiers this past year, they wanted the last bond — I think it was the 2011 bond — changed from the water department back to the governmental department, so it created a lot of equity on the water/sewer side,” McNeill said.

The 2011 bond had replaced a 2007 bond, and the wording was such that it was better to have it under the governmental budget, McNeill said.

This created a positive of $1,867,332 on the water/sewer side but a negative of $1,891,849 on the governmental side. Leaving a combined negative net position of $24,517.

McNeill said this was one of the lowest losses for the water/sewer side in recent years.

“The water is a positive, but the sewer is always what brings it down,” McNeill said. “I think every municipality has that same issue.”

He said an increase in fees charged has helped the situation. The city has made a number of improvements to the sewer system in recent years. Additional improvements are also being considered.

The negative combined net position of $24,517 includes an amount of money the city is required to subtract for depreciation.

McNeill explained that these are not funds the city actually has to pay out.

“It is not a cash expense, but it is an expense,” McNeill said. “That too is one thing that creates negative numbers in water and sewer because they have so many assets … we have a loss but when you remove the depreciation, it looks a lot better and is even positive.”

A new software the city has started using made the audit process smoother this year. McNeill said he thinks separating the finance offices, as the city plans to do, will further help during the audit process.

McNeill, Mayor Eddie Reed and the Council thanked City Clerk Vicki Potts for her help on the audit.

The audit report was discussed during a work session and formally accepted during the voting session.

Also during the voting session, the Council approved applying for a state grant for road paving. The program would require a 20% local match.

Funding “Phase 1” needs at the new library location was unanimously approved.

Jemison Library personnel had presented the list during the work session. These needs, including installation of a sink, cabinet space and anchoring the bookshelf near the front door, are estimated to cost $31,081. Each of these items are considered essential to complete before a formal open house is held. Assistant librarian Cheryl English and Councilman Rex Bittle commented on what a good price the library was being offered to do the work.

Librarian Tammie McGriff said she hopes to have a plaque on display at the library listing the many people who have helped make the move to the new location a success. She said the project came together much faster than she anticipated because of the help they received from the community.

English and McGriff thanked the Council for all its support of the library.

The new location is 160 Main Street. The library is open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to noon.