Audit shows Town of Columbus banks almost 60 percent fund balance

Published 11:04 pm Monday, December 30, 2013

The Town of Columbus reported a healthy audit for fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, including an almost 60 percent fund balance available for spending.

Columbus Town Council met Dec. 19 and heard from Terry Andersen, with Carland and Andersen auditors.

At the end of fiscal year 2012-2013, Columbus reported a total fund balance of $762,315, which was an increase of $142,797 compared to the prior year. Of the total, $574,041 is available for spending, or 59.56 percent of the town’s general fund expenditures. At year-end 2012, Columbus had an available fund balance of 53.92 percent, or $532,233.

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Columbus’ 2013 budget was conservative in both the general fund and the water/sewer, or proprietary fund. In the general fund, actual revenues exceeded budget by $99,393 and actual expenses were less than budget by $41,664. During the 2013 budget, the town granted a four percent employee salary increase because the town had not granted an increase since 2008.

In the water/sewer fund, Columbus also ended with positive balances. The town’s water/sewer fund had total operating revenues of $1,101,714 compared to total operating expenses of $918,053. The unrestricted net position of the water/sewer fund at the end of fiscal year 2013 totaled $696,561, which was an increase of $204,303.

The town’s outstanding debt decreased in both the general fund and water/sewer fund at year-end 2013. The general fund’s 2013 debt was $117,124 compared to $154,675 at year-end 2012. In the water/sewer fund, the total debt at year-end 2013 was $2,636,625 compared to $2,994,423 at year-end 2012. The 2013 water/sewer fund debt does not include a $3 million loan the town obtained for wastewater treatment plant upgrades currently being constructed. The $3 million loan is included in the current 2013-2014 fiscal year budget.

Purchases the town of Columbus made in fiscal year end 2013 included the purchase of a 2012 Dodge Charger for the police department at a cost of $33,821 that was fully funded from federal drug seizure funds and the purchase of a checkpoint trailer and equipment at a cost of $12,054, which was fully funded by a traffic grant from the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

Highlights for Columbus’ current budget year, which will end June 30, 2014, include an adopted general fund budget of $1,022,090, which is an increase of 1.7 percent of the fiscal year 2012-2013 budget of $1,005,450. The tax rate remained the same at 40 cents per $100 of property valuation. The current budget includes hiring two full-time police officers to provide armed security at St. Luke’s Hospital, which the hospital will fund.

The current year’s water/sewer fund totaled $4,129,038, which represents a 273 percent increase from the 2012-2013 water/sewer fund budget of $1,512,631. The increase is because of the addition of the $3 million loan for the wastewater treatment plant upgrades. Construction of the approximate $3.2 million worth of upgrades began in April 2013. The first loan payment will be due in May 2015. There were no water/sewer rate increases in the 2013/2014 budget following a 10 percent increase in sewer rates during the 2010-2011 budget year.