Johnson: city’s finances are sound

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson talked to city council members about philosophy during Tuesday night’s workshop meeting.

He wasn’t lecturing on Plato’s Republic or Socrates’ philosopher kings. Instead he was talking about philosophical approaches to municipal finances and projects.

While the previous administration adopted a pay-as-you-go plan, Johnson said he prefers to finance projects based on how long they’ll be useful, as he and the city council members are prepared to do in seeking a $6 million bond issue with which to complete the River Falls Street project, renovate Church Street School, improve Johnson Park, and complete a new industrial park near River Falls Street.

City clerk John Thompson provided council members with copies of the city’s financial statement for the fiscal year that ended last September, as well as year-to-date numbers for the current fiscal year.

“We expect to finish the year with almost $800,000 in the contingency fund,” Thompson said. “The last council elected to pay for capital projects out of cash.”

Johnson said that while a pay-as-you-go system might sound good to some, it does present problems.

As the city has prepared to seek the bond issue, he said, he and Thompson have had to answer the question, “Why did the general fund balance decline?”

“When you pay for projects that way, you have nothing to fall back on,” he said. “In my mind, that’s not a good way to finance long-term projects.

“We need to show that we’ll have a cushion in case something happens,” he said.

Johnson expressed his appreciation to the current council members for their help.

“Y’all have been great help in doing this,” he said.

Johnson said that a comparison of Andalusia’s tax revenues to those of nearby cities shows that the city is doing well.

“Andalusia has made a significant investment in roads, streets and sidewalks,” he said. “It’s paying off now because this fiscal year we have not seen a decline.”