CPA: City of Batavia's finances in fine shape due to 'conservative approach'
A “conservative approach” to budgeting and spending enabled the City of Batavia to maintain a strong financial position for the 2017-18 fiscal year, according to the accountant who presented the municipality’s audit report at Monday night’s City Council meeting.
“The City has taken a conservative approach, especially with sales tax (projections) and a conservative approach to watching costs and monitoring those costs,” said Laura Landers, CPA, of Freed Maxick. “This has led to the excess (surplus) that we see in operations.”
Landers reported that the City’s general fund showed $16,014,615 in revenues versus $15,731,077 in expenditures for a surplus of $283,538 for the fiscal year that ended on March 31.
“Over the past 10 years, (when looking at) actual revenues versus budgeted revenues, the City has fared well,” she said. “And actual expenditures have been less than budgeted expenditures (as well).”
She noted that sales tax and VLT (Video Lottery Terminal) money from Batavia Downs Gaming “increased slightly” in 2017-18, with a spike in gas prices helping to boost sales tax revenue.
Landers said the City has $4.5 million in restricted funds – earmarked for insurance, capital projects, employee benefits, retirement, Dwyer Stadium – and $1.7 million in unassigned funds.
“Council can utilize the unassigned funds for unanticipated expenditures or to balance next year’s budget,” she explained. “It is a tool that you can use during the budget process. ‘Do we have projects?’ So, you don’t have to dip into reserves.”
The report also revealed $339,450 in “committed funds” for use on the City’s Master Plan, Ellicott Trail Project, Creek Park and (now dormant) Vibrant Batavia.
All told, the total fund balance for 2017-18 was at $7,388, 913.
Landers also reported that the water fund showed total assets of $10.2 million, with an $880,000 surplus – “which means that rates are at levels which have supported operations” – and that the sewer fund has $32.1 million in assets, including $8.8 million in cash.
Concluding, she said that, once again, the firm "did not note any material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in the operations of the City to report to City Council as a result of our audit procedures."