Audit: Andalusia had banner year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The City of Andalusia had a banner year, financially speaking, in fiscal year ending 2014.

That’s the message CPA Ken Odom delivered with Rabren, Odom, Pierce and Hayes’ audit of the city’s finances for the most recent fiscal year. Odom said the city is in a “sound financial position,” and echoed previous comments he made that increasing city sales taxes in 2013 was the right thing to do.

Highlights included:

• Total general fun revenues of $16.9 million, or $2.1 million more than the previous year. The 2014 fiscal year was the first full year of a new city sales tax. Taxes collected by the city actually increased by $2.8 million, but that number was offset because the city collected less monies for licenses and permits, and fines and forfeitures.

• At the same time, the city cut general fund spending by $933,511.

• In 2014, $1.75 million of debt was retired.

City Clerk John Thompson explained that the council has set a goal of having a reserve fund of at least 15 percent of annual expenditures, or $2 to $2.5 million.

“At the end of 2014, the city had in excess of $2.5 million in unrestricted cash,” Thompson wrote in the management letter accompanying the audit. “While not all of this amount was able to be set aside as a reserve fund, the city continues to improve its cash position and anticipates a substantial increase by the end of fiscal year 2015.”

Mayor Earl Johnson echoed those comments.

“Halfway in to 2015, we are looking even better,” Johnson said. “A lot of work has been done.”

In his management letter, Johnson wrote, “By conservative estimate, Andalusia has witnessed an unprecedented level of level of reinvestment, $225 million, both public and private, in infrastructure and strategic improvements, since 2000. This represents an effort to rebuild Andalusia with improvements in streets, sidewalks, schools, ball fields, parks, cultural arts facilities, high efficiency manufacturing equipment, office space, aerospace infrastructure, health care service, retail and other commercial applications.”

Johnson said the reinvestment signals a commitment to the future, and demonstrates that private investors re confident in the leadership and direction of the city.

The council’s bold decision in 2013 to increase sales taxes has paid off, he wrote.

“By the end of FY 2014, we had enough in our reserves to pay for our match for the South Three Notch Street Project, and contributed more than $1 million to Andalusia City Schools to complete new Junior High School and sixth grade buildings on the Andalusia High School and Andalusia Elementary School campuses,” he wrote.

Johnson told council members Tuesday that all of the plans for the South Three Notch project are in the ALDOT division office in Troy, and will soon be forwarded to Montgomery.

“What has held it up, is we were trying to get a piece of right-of-way we needed,” he said. “It will be a nicer finished project than it would have been without it.”