With the beginning of the 2017-18 budget process just a couple of weeks away, the annual audit results were presented to the Elkin Board of Commissioners Monday, providing details about the year-end financial status for the 2015-16 fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016.
Meg Carter, auditor with Martin, Starnes & Associates, reported an unmodified opinion, meaning the town was in compliance with regulations and had a clean audit with no findings. She also noted the good cooperation the auditors received from the town’s staff during the audit process.
The audit presentation included final monetary numbers for the town’s budgets as well. In 2015-16, the town had $5,227,021 in revenue, and $5,601,098 in expenditures, Carter reported. She added that the year prior, the town’s revenues were higher than its expenses, with $5,086,373 coming in and $4,580,577 being spent.
With the higher expenditures, the town used $422,013 of its fund balance to make sure the budget balanced last fiscal year, Carter said. Leaving an ending total of $2,999,937 in the fund balance, with $2,055,954 of that being unassigned and free for use as needed. This is a decrease from 2014-15 fiscal year, which ended with $2,477,967 in unassigned fund balance.
The entire fund balance, including restricted money, decreased $381,578 from 2015 to 2016, reported Carter.
The Local Government Commission requires a government entity to have a minimum of 8 percent, or three months of expenses, in its fund balance. Carter said Elkin’s fund balance is at 37 percent, down from 54 percent the previous year.
These decreases in the fund balance actually are less than what the town originally expected though, explained Town Manager John Holcomb. He said the fund balance was budgeted to decreased an additional $626,000. Items that contributed to the lesser decrease included $21,000 in additional garbage fee revenue than expected, $265,000 in work on the linear park at the downtown historic rock façade being put off, saving $96,000 by combining the town manager and finance director positions, and some other smaller amounts of changes to the planned budget.
The town had an increase in ad valorem taxes, such as property taxes, from $2,584,696 in 2015 to $2,694,493 in 2016, Carter reported. The tax collection rate for 2016 was 97.66 percent, down just slightly from 97.97 percent in 2015.
Commissioner Dr. Skip Whitman asked how Elkin’s fund balance compared to the averages around the state. Holcomb said they typically range from 50 to 60 percent, so Elkin’s is below that level.
In addition to the general fund, Carter also addressed the town’s water fund, noting a profit of $179,501. That amount is $76,322 higher than the projected profit for the water fund, Holcomb said. That is an increased profit from 2015 as well, which was $133,803, he reported.
More discussion of the fund balance and early budgeting preparation is expected during the board’s annual retreat on Feb. 24 at The Liberty on East Main Street.
In other town business,
• Mayor Sam Bishop recognized area Boy Scout troop leaders, who were joined by some of their scouts, during a proclamation declaring February Boy Scouts of America Month.
• The commissioners granted permission to Downtown Elkin Inc. to host cruise-ins the fourth Saturday of each month from May through October, with October being a new addition to the cruise-in schedule for 2017.
• The commissioners approved requests to allow overnight use of the Elkin Municipal Park and Recreation Center facilities, waiving the fees for rentals of the picnic shelters and other facilities, and to allow on-site alcohol within the park during the overnight stop for Cycle NC’s Mountain to Sea trek in October.
• A joint-use agreement between the town and the Elkin Rescue Squad also was approved for utilization of the newly-purchased ATV for medical purposes on the town’s trail system. The agreement includes an understanding that the squad will provide the medical equipment, a patient carrier and trained personnel and liability insurance to operate the ATV.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.