$1M strong

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

“Holding the line” on expenses has paid off for the City of Andalusia.

City Clerk John Thompson last night updated council members on the city’s financial position for the fiscal year that began in October.

Through the end of February, the city had collected $6.3 million in revenue – $313,677 more than budgeted and $261,327 more than in the same period last year.

During that period, the city’s expenses were $5.02 million – $750,091 less than budgeted and $179,995 less than the same period last year.

The net result is $1.06 million more than the city expected to have when the budget was approved in November.

“It’s not any one thing we’ve done,” Mayor Earl Johnson said. “We’ve held the line on employment. We haven’t hired any people. We made some hard decisions early on about expenses, but those were reflected in the budget.”

Before the current administration was sworn in in November, council members had agreed to rescind a previously approved cost of living raise for employees, citing a need to balance the budget and an uncertain financial situation.

“The credit goes to our folks,” Johnson said. “They’ve been able to really keep a lid on things.”

Johnson said keeping a reign on expenses and the good fortune of having a slight increase in sales tax revenues have put Andalusia in a good situation.”

“We’ve been very, very frugal with expenses,” Johnson said. “We have a 2 percent sales tax in the city and every dollar spent at home helps the local economy and the city. The county receives exactly the same amount of sales taxes as we do in Andalusia, plus what they collect in other areas of the county. Shopping here is good for the city and good for the county.”

Johnson and several council members attended an Alabama League of Municipalities meeting this past weekend in Montgomery.

“I didn’t hear a single other mayor there say their sales taxes were up,” Johnson said. “If you look at the investments being made in this community – the Holiday Inn Express, Tractor Supply, Marvin’s – good things are happening here.”

The current figures came in the same meeting that council members officially approved the audit of fiscal year 2008 operations presented by the firm of Carr, Riggs and Ingram. Hilton Galloway reviewed the audit with council members. Galloway said the city’s audit showed “positive trends” that the firm isn’t seeing in many municipalities, including a reduction of debt in fiscal year 2008.

The firm recommended that the city develop and adopt an investment policy and an accounting and policy manual. Johnson said city employees are already working to adopt those for the council’s future consideration.