Andalusia finances get high marks

Published 12:34 am Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The City of Andalusia received high marks in its 2011-2012 audit, CPA Ken Odom of Rabren, Odom, Pierce and Hayes reported Tuesday night.

“The highest report that can be given is an unqualified report,” Odom said. “I’m not allowed by professional standards to give you an atta boy, but if I could, I would have put one in there.”

Odom said the audit, approved yesterday, gives “a very good overview of where city is at 2012.”

Odom reminded council members that an audit is merely a “snapshot in time,” and that some items that look like expenditures are really “just transferring money from the left pocket to the right pocket.”

For instance, several entries reflect grants received by the city for the Utilities Board. The transfer of funds shows up as an expenditure.

“You had over $12.5 million in revenue, and over $15 million in expenditures. That’s not necessarily bad, it’s just a snapshot in time.”

Based on his review, he said, the city’s sales taxes continue to increase.

“That’s the largest source of revenue,” he said. “Let me assure you from looking at the city’s financial report and knowing what you would like to do, you are to be commended for taking hard stance you did at your last meeting. (Raising sales taxes) was the right thing to do. Ten years from now, everybody will be glad you had the foresight to do the tough thing.”

Earlier in the day, Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson told Rotarians the Standard and Poor had just renewed the city’s “A” credit rating.

“Based upon my research, and Standard & Poor’s, you’re still an ‘A,’ ” he said.

“You can’t look at just one year,” Odom said. “You’ve got to look at one year, and the next year and next year. Andalusia is in sound financial position.”

Johnson said copies of the audit will be placed on the city’s web site and are available from city hall.

One note to the financial certain to raise chatter on social media refers to an “investment” the city agreed to make in Pinnacle Place of Andalusia LLC. The council voted in late 2010 to partner with the project and to commit $500,000 to the project in exchange for a 35 percent ownership interest, and the note states that.

The note to the financial reads as if the money was actually invested, but Odom, Johnson and City Clerk John Thompson each said the funds were in place but never transferred. Thompson said the developers did not put their financing in place, and that the confusing language will be cleared up on future audits when the council dissolves the agreement.