Auditor: Woodstock ‘made great strides’
by Michelle Babcock
January 17, 2014 12:01 AM | 1730 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Woodstock City Council heard about its 2013 financial audit during a presentation at the council’s first meeting of the year Monday.

James Whitaker, certified public accountant and managing auditor for the Snellville-based firm James L. Whitaker PC, presented the council with his audit for the 2013 fiscal year.

Also at the meeting, new Councilman Warren Johnson was sworn in and as his first action on the council appointed former mayor Bill Long to the city’s Ethics Board.

Whitaker, in his fourth year of auditing the city’s financials, gave Woodstock an “unqualified” opinion, which means the city complied with governmental accounting standards, he said.

“The city has made great strides in implementing and strengthening internal controls over its accounting system over the last two years,” Whitaker said Monday.

Whitaker noted some of the city’s improvements, including creating a monthly housekeeping checklist and completing it in a timely manner, implementing a budgetary process to decrease budget amendments and overspending and training personnel.

“There has been significant oversight by the city’s chief financial officer,” Whitaker said. “I believe all of this has transpired into a turning point for the city. I just think it’s a great way to start off the new year.”

When fiscal 2013 concluded on June 30, Whitaker said the city had the equivalent of about 7.4 percent in reserve funds. Of that, Whitaker said the city had about $601,000, or 4.26 percent of general fund expenditures, in unassigned funds — funds that can be used in future operating budgets.

“The recommended reserve is between 20 and 25 percent,” Whitaker noted. “The city is under that; 20 to 25 percent would be somewhere around $3,256,000.”

However, Whitaker said even though the city is below the recommended amount of reserve, “last year the city was showing, at this time, a negative fund balance of $602,000.”

“So turning that around to a positive $957,000 is a positive turnaround of $1.5 million, which is great,” he said. “You’re on the right track.”

Based on the report, the city’s total combined net assets increased to $29.8 million from $26.9 million during fiscal 2013.

Combined revenue increased by $1.8 million, bringing the total to $28.1 million. Of the 2013 fiscal year revenue, general fund activities totaled about $19.2 million and water/sewer and stormwater activities totaled $9 million.

Overall expenses amounted to $25.27 million, with general fund expenses accounting for $15.6 million and water/sewer and stormwater activities totaling $9.6 million.

Woodstock’s long-term debt totaled $45.7 million, increasing from around $42 million. The debt represents about $20.5 million in the general fund and $25.2 million related to water/sewer and stormwater activities.

Based on the city’s financial position, Standard & Poor’s credit rating services upgraded Woodstock’s bond rating from “A-” to “AA-” in December 2013.

According to Standard & Poor’s, an “AA” rating means the city has “very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.”

Also at the council meeting Monday:

• Council voted to make Councilwoman Liz Baxter the mayor pro tem;

• Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss swore in new police officers;

• Council reviewed vacancies for the Ethics Board, Planning Commission and DDA;

• Woodstock Fire Chief Dave Soumas recognized Neese Towing; and

• Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast was proclaimed.

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