Auditor: City shows financial resilience

Published 12:21 am Wednesday, July 18, 2012

If the City of Andalusia were a for-profit enterprise, it would have operated with a $1.9 million profit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2011.

Hilton Galloway of the Enterprise firm of Carr Riggs and Ingram reviewed the city’s 2011 audit Tuesday night, and told council members he was pleased with the financial stability Andalusia has shown.

“We audit 70 or 80 communities in our firm,” Galloway said. “Andalusia is extremely resilient. The recession of 08-09 showed very little impact on the city’s finances.

“One big part is you are not as dependent on retail automobile sales,” Galloway said. “You have a diversified retail community.”

In other communities more reliant on automobile sales for tax income, the decrease in auto sales that followed the recession had a huge impact, he said.

The audit showed that sales and use taxes, the largest single source of revenue for the city, increased 6.0 percent during the 2011 fiscal year.

Galloway said the city’s capital assets increased by $8.4 million in 2011, primarily because of investments in infrastructure.

Asked to speak to the city’s Standard and Poor’s bond rating, which recently was increased to “A,” Galloway said that a bond rating “is an indicator of the health and welfare of the community.”

“A is an investment-grade rating,” Galloway said. “Standard and Poor’s is an independent agency. Their rating says to everybody managing public monies that it views Andalusia as an investment-grade community. Anyone buying your bonds is not at significant risk.”

Galloway said the bond rating is more of an indicator of the city’s financial health than it’s audit.

“Their due diligence is far more extensive than mine,” he said. “We’re taking a snapshot at Sept. 30. Their determination is more global. That’s hard, especially in Andalusia, which is moving at lightning speed in terms of all the moving parts.

“Right now, the city is very well positioned,” Galloway said. “Obviously, it is in a position to service the debt it currently has. One catastrophic event could change that, or bringing in one industry could have opposite effect.

“The face of the city is changing,” he said. “When investors see you investing in the community, that speaks volumes.”

The audit had no findings, but recommended that the city add firearms and IT equipment to its inventory of property.

“While it is not necessary to inventory all items costing less than $5,000, we would recommend the city include all firearms and data processing equipment into the Asset Inventory Report,” the audit stated in the management letter.

Additionally, the firm recommended the city complete an information technology (IT) risk assessment and increase security. The council has already approved changes to increase server security and provide increased, off-site back-up of IT functions in case of a major emergency.