Ahoskie receives favorable audit

Published 3:58 pm Sunday, May 24, 2015

AHOSKIE – Don’t count Ahoskie as one municipality in the state, or the country, with ‘shaky’ finances.

According to the latest audit presented at the recent Town Council meeting, the town has received high marks once again.

Chris Burton of the accounting firm of Carr, Riggs, and Ingram presented the 2014-15 audit report and joked to the Council at the May 12 meeting that while it may have been a terrible year for him, personally, on some levels, the town was not anywhere near less than ship-shape.

“I had a brief hospital stay, lost some staffers, made a software change, and everything was late,’ he mused; but he said after finishing the audit that the town suffered no such misfortune.

Burton opened by informing Council the town’s assets exceeded liabilities and deferred inflows of resources at the end of the fiscal year (June 30) by $20.46 million, net.

Meanwhile, due to decreases in both the governmental and business-type activities (water and sewer) net position the government’s total net position was down by nearly $1.3 million.

The town’s governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of nearly $3 million ($2.975) which was a decrease of just over $163,500 compared to 2013-14, with just over $851,000 – roughly 28 percent – restricted.

“The unassigned fund balance was equivalent to three months of general fund expenditures of $6.375 million which is what you were all after, and that is still strong,” Burton said. “The percentage went down a little bit, but not a great deal.”

Councilwoman Elaine Myers asked about the percentage of decrease, and Burton said it was equal to three months or somewhere around 22 percent.

Business-type debt fund balance decreased by almost $215,000 in ‘14-’15 due to principal payments made during the year on outstanding debt.

“You didn’t get any more debt in the water and sewer,” Burton said.

The auditor saved his best compliment to the town for his last remark when he said the legal debt margin went from $7.8 million to $9.5 million.

“That’s how much more you could borrow, but you don’t want to do that,” he mused to laughter from the Council.

The balance sheet also showed activities for 2013 to 2014 went down about $200,000 for governmental activities and roughly $1,000,000 for business-type activities.

There were several aspects of Ahoskie’s financial operations that positively influenced the financial position like the collection of personal property taxes increasing from the nearly 97 percent (96.4) collection percentage of a year ago.

The town collected $2.5 million for current year’s taxes, which is approximately $151,000 over collections from the previous year.

“Of all the audits I do, that (figure) is right up there on top,” Burton said to applause and general self-congratulations from Council.

Some of the general fund balance had to be re-stated, according to Burton, because of pulling out the town’s travel and tourism fund balance and making it separate in 2013-14.

“This is the first year we’ve had to do that,” he said.

The report also showed that the revenues in the water and sewer fund were way under budget for the fourth straight year.

The expenditures made in the town’s Ahoskie Creek Recreation Complex Phase 1B project fund did exceed authorized appropriations by $38,627 and the auditor recommended the town more closely monitor its budget and ensure all expenditures are properly authorized.

There was also included an unbalanced budget transfer between the General Fund and the county’s E-911 Fund which the auditors recommended be more closely monitored to ensure balance between funds.

There was also the Ahoskie Tourism Development Authority not filing its Local Government Commission Form-203 (Statement of Cash Balances) on time for the final six months of the fiscal year.

Finally, there were some immaterial discrepancies: a correction needed to the books following a computer software conversion; the town’s hiring of an independent consultant to help correct the books; and there were also delays due to other issues with the software vendor.

“We made 40-plus journal entries, and that’s after the software people came in and fixed it, but we got through it,” Burton stated.

The auditor finished by informing Council that investor earnings were not being properly allocated to individual funds that had positive cash flows.

“You need to start doing that,” he cautioned.

“Keep a close eye on your debt,” Burton concluded as there were no questions from Council. “The internal control system you have in place here is very strong and if there’s something out of line, hopefully the system will catch it.”

The Council will vote to approve the audit report at a later meeting date.