The City of Jacksonville received a clean audit of their 2021 finances.
Adam Whithee of Zumbahlen, Eyth, Surratt, Foote, and Flynn told the city at their final meeting of the month of June that no findings were found in the city’s accounting practices and that they had a 9-11 month cushion in their general fund.
Whithee did present several concerns that the city should work on ahead of their audit next year. The first concern was about the accounts receivable line item. It’s the line item in the city’s revenues that shows the city is owed money from uncollected fines, ordinance violations, and unpaid utility accounts adjudicated by the municipal court.
Acting mayor for the meeting, Ward 5 Alderman Don Cook, who also sits as the City’s Finance/I.T. Committee Chaiarman said after the meeting it’s something that the city has worked on for a long time to get collected, especially when someone moves out of Jacksonville: “As City Clerk Skip Bradshaw said during the meeting, it’s in the city’s collection agency’s hands. It’s very slow. I think the County Court system experiences the same thing as we do on the local level. It’s just a tough thing to get collected.”
Whithee also noted that the city’s soft revenues were performing the best that they have in 5 years, but that was coupled with the city’s expenses going up. Cook explained that expenses have gone up because the city had a lot of deferred spending from Covid-19 that had been planned in the previous two years. He says there’s also some big projects that are starting: “I think a lot of the expenses has to do with the Utility Department because we have got a major project coming up with the Wastewater Treatment Plant, and we are trying to do it in phases. We played catch up this year with the capital improvement projects. Last year, we didn’t do a whole lot of them, but we again have tried to fill all those needs that they wanted last year this year.”
Whithee says that the Estimated Annual Value of property has remained the same in the city. Last year, the city council voted to not raise the city’s tax levy. Whithee says despite those two things happening, the city’s finances still showed a positive. Cook says it’s thanks to the department heads staying within their budgets: “When you raise that EAV, that’s really a fluctuating number. But, you’ve got to give credit to our department heads for toeing the line and making sure what they need is right. They are not frivolous with their money. Hats off to the department heads for holding the line on all of these things.”
Whithee also listed the American Rescue Plan Act funds as a potential liability next year for the city’s finances. Two traunches of funding are expected to come to the city totaling about $2.5 million. The city has already received the first traunch, with the second coming possibly later in July. The funds haven’t been allocated for any projects yet by the city council. Phil McCarty presented the city council with a list of potential qualifying projects to use the ARPA money on last month.