Clean audit for Clarkston

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
The city’s finances are fine, said auditor Rana M. Emmons, CPA with PSLZ LLP, in her report to City Council, Nov.14.
“I have a good report for you this evening,” Emmons said. “Everything is above board and properly done – I am impressed.”
According to the Independent Auditor’s Report dated Oct. 24, General Fund revenues exceeded expenditures in fiscal year 2016 by $8,172. General Fund revenues for 2016 totaled $713,151, and expenditures were $639,341, plus $65,638 in transfers from the General Fund – $15,500 to the Major and Local Street funds, $1,638 to the Debt Service funds, and $48,500 to the Capital Projects Fund.
Last year, expenditures exceeded revenues by $94,608.
Revenues this year were $60,700 less than last year, when the city received about $103,000 in donations for the Depot Park pedestrian bridge project and security cameras.
Property tax revenue increased $9,336, one percent, compared to last year, according to the audit.
“This is an encouraging sign – it’s better than going negative or stagnant,” Emmons said. “It’s really what I’ve been seeing in the area.”
The city spent about $84,000 on routine road maintenance, winter maintenance, and road repairs in fiscal year 2016.
The city paid off $310,000 in its total general obligation bond debt this past year, reducing it to $1,722,000.
“In Fiscal Year 2017, you’ll pay off two more special assessment bonds – that’s a very encouraging thing,” Emmons said.
The fund balance at the end of the fiscal year is $173,758, up from $165,586 at the beginning of the year. That’s approximately 27 percent of general fund expenditures, compared to 24 percent last year, Emmons said.
“You came in about $34,000 under budget in the final amended budget,” she said. “You run a very tight budget here.”
“It was a lot better than we expected,” said Treasurer Caitlin Bentoski.
The city did a good job with internal budgetary controls despite a small staff and personnel changes, including resignation of the city manager and a new treasurer.
“Caitlin caught on very quickly,” Emmons said.
One concern is the 0.691 library-millage reduction to the city operating millage, as promised by city council during the 2014 district library campaign – a loss of about $25,000, she said.
“I’d love to help the city with something like that – it’s very important,” she said.
City council will discuss the issue later, said Mayor Steve Percival.
“We’re not going to debate this today, not off the cuff,” Percival said.
Total revenue to the city this past fiscal year was $1,108,668; and total expenses, $1,204,704, a deficit of $96,036. Last year’s deficit was $52,873.
The city’s 2016 total net position, $3,054,554, is down from a 2015 total net position of $3,115,829.
Net position includes capital assets, buildings and property, that are not considered financial resources, Special Assessments to be collected over several years, and bonds and other long-term liabilities not due and payable this year, and therefore not reported in the funds.