Rifle finances in good shape, but…
Citizen Telegram Editor
The City of Rifle’s finances were in good order at the end of last year, but more revenue is likely needed for the sewer department, according to the 2013 financial audit.
City Council approved the audit on a 5-0 vote, with councilmembers Barbara Clifton and Rich Carter absent, on May 21.
Accountant Tim Mayberry, from Holscher, Mayberry & Co., gave the city a “clean opinion,” meaning “all is as it needs to be “ he said during a workshop before the City Council meeting.
“There are no concerns with any funds,” Mayberry said. “That’s not to say there aren’t some funds to keep an eye on.”
The city’s general fund, the largest, was up slightly in 2013, Mayberry noted, compared to a deficit at the end of 2012.
“But you budgeted for a loss last year and did again this year, so you shouldn’t have any problems,” Mayberry said. “You should keep an eye on it going forward, though, and make sure you continue to balance your spending with citizen desires.”
The city spent slightly more than it budgeted for in its IT department, Mayberry said, but also received more revenue than budgeted.
The city sewer fund was out of compliance in terms of generating enough revenue to meet its debt service, Mayberry added.
“You were about $250,000 short last year, just as you were for several recent years,” he added.
The city’s annual five percent sewer rate hike has not generated enough revenue to keep the city in compliance with state audit regulations, Mayberry said.
“One option is to cut operating costs, but deciding what you can do without, and still meet state health regulations, is a tough challenge,” Mayberry added.
State officials will ask the city for a plan to address the sewer funding shortfall, Mayberry said.
The city should continue to train a finance department worker to maintain accounting records, he noted, rather than have Finance Director Charles Kelty take all that responsibility, along with other duties.
“If Charles gets too overwhelmed, there might be a chance some things could get dropped and you don’t want that to happen,” Mayberry stated.
The city has six months of operating revenue in its reserve funds, compared to the state municipal average of three months, Mayberry noted.
A separate audit of the city’s more than $500,000 in federal grants received last year remains to be completed, Mayberry noted, “But we don’t expect any problems with that.”
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Rifle City Manager Scott Hahn plans to transition out of his position over the next several months, according to a city of Rifle news release.