Audit of city finances $731,883 surplus cash
A recently completed yearly audit has found that the city’s finances are in good shape, and even included a surplus of $731,883 from the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 last year.
“I find this extraordinary,” CPA Wayne Beyer told the city council on Thursday, Feb. 18.
Most cities don’t stay within budget, much less accumulate a surplus, said Beyer, whose Pleasanton firm conducted the routine audit.
Beyer said he found “no improprieties” in the city’s books.
The city ended up with a surplus while at the same time tightening its budgetary belt in anticipation of a revenue shortfall. Finance Director Darla Honea said that happened due to a variety of factors, including the fact that several staff positions were open. The city saved money by not having to pay those salaries.
Another example of savings: The city terminated a contract with Freese and Nichols, a consulting firm that the city had been paying to rewrite the Port Aransas codes and update the city’s zoning map. City employees did the work after the consultant was let go.
The original contract with Freese and Nichols was for $70,000, but the contract was terminated after the city spent only $6,500.
Mayor Pro Tem Keith McMullin noted that the audit showed about $676,000 in “receivables” – unpaid bills owed to the city. About half of that was EMS bills.
Honea said EMS bills commonly are difficult to collect partly because many patients are non-residents who provide incomplete or inaccurate information to the city. It can be hard to collect from such people, she said.
The city has gotten better at collecting on unpaid bills since hiring a billing clerk about two years ago, Honea said.
Many outstanding EMS bills are years old and possibly should be written off, Honea said.
Beyer said a large percentage of EMS bills are “not collectable” at most cities.
About $40,000 in past-due garbage bills also are owed to the city. McMullin has said the city should consider instituting fees for late payments of garbage bills and cutting off service all together when people wait too long to pay the bills.
The city council might address the question of collecting on unpaid garbage bills at its March meeting.