Randy Scrivner, a partner with Watkins, Ward and Stafford, speaks to the Starkville Board of Aldermen on Tuesday about the city's Fiscal Year 2018 audit. Scrivner said the city had a clean audit for the year. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
March 21, 2019 11:00:27 AM
The city of Starkville has posted clean results for its Fiscal Year 2018 audit, according to a Watkins, Ward and Stafford auditor.
Randy Scrivner, a partner with the firm, presented the audit report to the Starkville Board of Aldermen during Tuesday's meeting.
The report is in its review stage, and Scrivner said it's scheduled for official release on March 29.
Scrivner said the audit found no deficiencies for the second year in a row and is one of the best the city has had in "many years."
During his presentation, Scrivner said the city has a fund balance of $3,084,937. That's up from $2,075,000 in 2013.
"This is almost 15 percent -- it's 14.98 percent of your general fund expenditures," Scrivner said. "That's an important number to look at because 8 percent is what you try to keep. The city of Starkville has routinely, since 2013, has had a low of 7.8 percent up to a high of 15 percent. You're consistently running in the 12 percent range, which is a very solid fund balance number for operations for the city."
Scrivner said maintaining a solid fund balance is an important precaution for emergency situations, such as a federal government shutdown that could have trickle-down impacts on municipalities.
"You don't get funding in certain areas while that's going on," he said. "You've got to have a cash reserve there to handle, generally, two to three months of expenditures."
Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk added that having a strong fund balance shows stability. She noted that not all of the money is something the city could easily convert to cash.
"When a company is looking at relocation here, they want to look at a town that has some stability," she said. "That was one of the most exciting things Randy mentioned -- our stability over the past two to three years."
Revenues and expenditures
The city's total revenues, for the general fund, came in $20,381,369. Scrivner said that was an increase of $257,481 for an essentially flat year.
"In some aspects of our economy this past year, flat was pretty good," he said.
General fund expenditures for the fiscal year were down, at $20,839,236 -- a $239,000 decrease from the previous year.
He said the general fund's surplus for the year was $545,000.
While the $20.3 million in revenues and $20.8 million in expenditures don't seem to add to a surplus, Sistrunk, who spoke to Scrivner after the meeting about the discrepancy, said those numbers don't include everything that goes into determining the final general fund change for the year.
"There's a lot that goes on between there and the net balance and net change balance," she said. "Those numbers Randy was giving us are what we'd think of as recurring or operational expenses, though there are a few things in there that are one-time expenses like bond issues. Some of the things that happen between revenues minus expenditures are things like revenue from the lagoon sale or transfers from other funds."
Working on a CAFR
Scrivner said he'd like to work with the city on a CAFR -- a comprehensive audited financial report -- for next year. He said Mayor Lynn Spruill requested to work on one for the city and he was initially hesitant because of the amount of detail that has to go into it.
However, he said he thinks the city can complete a CAFR, which is a rarity in Mississippi.
"A CAFR is a souped-up promotional audit report," Scrivner said. "We add a lot of splash to it and a lot more narratives from the city's side discussing the different areas and discussing the budget.
"Particularly in Mississippi, very few cities reach that gold standard," he added. "The city of Starkville did try one many moons ago, and I don't know that it ever got released. It's just one of those things that, when you issue one, it stands out."
Spruill said completing a CAFR is a similar level of accomplishment to a police department receiving accreditation.
"It's that high level of achievement and I think that'd be worth us going after," she said. "It also is actually an economic development tool to businesses who come to town and see we have a well-run, well-managed city."
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