Auditor: Garden City finances look good
By SCOTT AUST
By SCOTT AUST
Charles Claar, with Lewis, Hooper and Dick LLC, the firm that performs the city's annual independent audit, said Garden City's financial situation continues to be good.
In presenting the annual audit report for the year 2013 to the city commission on Tuesday, Claar said the city received an unqualified report, which he added is desirable because it means no issues were found.
"The comfort and assurance that it gives you is, it shows that you were making decisions with numbers presented to you accurately and in the proper funds that were accounted for accordingly," Claar said. "That lets you know as a commission that you were making decisions based on good financial information. That's important across the board, and it doesn't happen by accident."
The city had $171 million in assets in 2013, compared to $156 million in assets in 2012. Total revenues from all city funds were $66.65 million last year, and $61.83 million the year before that.
Claar indicated that having no issues despite the number of transactions and activity running through the accounting process and accounting system each year is commendable.
The general fund's cash balance increased $1.3 million in its net equity last year, which is better than the year before when it dropped about $435,000. Given that the state's bond rating is down, Claar said the upward trend Garden City can show investors is important if the city seeks a bond sale in the future. The city has about 2.5 months of available cash reserves, which described as "a comfortable place to be."
Healthy financial trends are important because it makes the city's position look better to outside parties when compared to other communities, Claar added.
Regarding general fund revenue, Claar said 67 percent, or $14.33 million, came from taxes of all sorts, including property, sales and motor vehicles. Out of all tax revenue, sales tax by far is the biggest driver for city revenue, representing 71.7 percent of all tax revenue collected in 2013. Property taxes made up less than 25 percent of all tax revenue, and the rest generally came from motor vehicle taxes.
"That sales tax number was very comparable with (2012), and there's only a half-percent change between the ad valorum tax, so it's pretty constant," he said. "I think that presents well for taxpayers so their tax bills aren't feeling like a yo-yo. They've got pretty steady effect from that."
Claar said the good, strong trends in city finances, and in its accounting practices, are things the commission can rely on when making decisions.
"So overall, you're saying Garden City is financially healthy," Mayor Roy Cessna said.
The commission accepted the report.
In other business Tuesday, the commission:
* Approved several requests on behalf of the Finney County Fair, including a special rate of $20 for solid waste service during the fair, permission to temporarily close Lake Avenue to through-traffic from July 23 through 26, a waiver of deposit and daily fees for the carnival and a waiver of height restrictions of aircraft over the city, to allow for helicopter rides.
* Approved a request by the Garden City Community College board of trustees to allow dispensing and consumption of cereal malt beverages or liquor at Lee Richardson Zoo June 13. GCCC is hosting the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees quarterly meeting, and will have a dinner and social hour at the Finnup Center.
* Recognized Garden City Recreation Commission for receiving the BlueCHIP award from Blue Cross Blue Shield. The BlueCHIP program is a community health improvement program that recognizes and rewards communities that encourage and support healthy lifestyles. Garden City, one of six communities to win the award, received a plaque and $2,500 for its continuing efforts to improve residents' health. In Garden City, officials intend to use the award to add amenities to the city's trail system, such as signage and benches. Partner organizations who worked together on the grant included Finney County Health Coalition, USD 457 and GCRC.
* Acknowledged that The Big Pool was recently featured in the Summer 2014 edition of Kansas magazine.
* Approved a waiver to the fireworks ordinance that will allow fireworks to be discharged within city limits between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. from July 3 to July 5.
* Approved the purchase of a performance management system including software used for conducting employee performance evaluations.
Staff sent requests for proposals to 14 firms and got three responses, only two of which met requirements. A committee selected the Austin Peters Group and Civic HR to provide the service at a cost of $24,710 this year, and a recurring annual subscription fee of $4,500.
* Authorized the police department to apply for a grant from the 2014 Local Solicitation Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. If awarded, the nearly $13,000 grant would be used to purchase in-car cameras. No local match is required for the grant.