Auditor: City books clean for FY 2010

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- A review of the City of Albany's financial books for the 2010 fiscal year shows no major problems, an independently-hired auditor told City Commissioners this week.

Meredith Lipson of Mauldin & Jenkins CPA presented the commission with the city's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is available at albanyherald.com.

Overall, Lipson said Mauldin & Jenkins had provided what auditors call an unqualified opinion, meaning that there were no substantial issues or findings to report.

Lipson did say that there were a few items that were reviewed that they noted as either "material weaknesses," or "significant deficiencies," but that the accounting jargon was a misnomer as the entries were relatively minor and were already being addressed by city staff.

Those findings largely dealt with two main issues, she said.

The first was that it appeared certain banks holding city accounts had under collaterized the city's assets during a period in FY 2010, leaving taxpayers vulnerable to risk if the banks had failed.

That issue had been corrected as the banks leveraged their own assets, she said.

The auditor also recommended that the city put all of its grant programs and compliance programs under one roof, something that city officials say they have done.

The other finding dealt with the Tax Allocation District. The audit found that the city had not developed an official budget for the TAD district fund as required by law. That matter is also being addressed.

"You should consider yourselves fortunate to be in the financial state that you're in," Lipson said.

According to her presentation, the city's general fund revenues came in at $56.8 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010. General fund expenditures ended the year at $55.3 million -- up $3 million from the previous year, she said.

That general fund is propped up by a $3 million-per-year infusion of funds from the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia Competitive Trust and the city also receives millions from the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission.

The city's reserve fund balance -- commonly referred to as its rainy day fund -- increased by $1.8 million, the result of a one-time surge in property tax payments made after multiple legal challenges contesting property tax assessments from previous years were ended, she said.

The city's enterprise funds received a mixed report from the auditors.

Unlike a general fund, enterprise funds generally aren't meant to come from tax dollars. Instead, they operate solely on the fees generated by the services they provide, such as solid waste or sanitary sewer funds.

Two of the city's enterprise funds -- Sanitary Sewer and Solid Waste -- ended the year with revenues covering expenses.

The others -- the airport fund, the civic center fund and the transit fund -- operated with a deficit.'