Warner Robins on track halfway through fiscal 2013

chwright@macon.comFebruary 4, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS ­-- Finances for this city’s budget year are on track, according to the first public fiscal 2013 presentation finance director Bill Harte gave Monday.

Fulfilling a City Council request from last year, Harte presented the half-year financial report at the precouncil meeting to give the public an update on city finances. He said the city is meeting budget expectations, even with overages in two departments’ capital funds.

Last summer, council members pressed Harte to provide them with monthly financial reports and the public with a periodic review. It was an effort to keep up with the city’s financial state throughout the year instead of only during budget season and annual audits.

“This exactly what I was asking for,” said Councilman Daron Lee, who made the original request based on similar reports he gets as a member of the Middle Georgia Regional Commission. Lee also said he would like public review on a quarterly basis.

Councilman Mike Brashear agreed, saying it’s a good idea for Council to have a snapshot.

Harte has e-mailed City Council monthly reports since August, but Monday’s presentation was the first public review since the council’s request.

The financial director explained the city was halfway through the fiscal year at the end of December, at which time it had spent 46 percent of the funds approved in the budget and collected 71 percent of expected revenue.

Most departments are in-line with the time of the year. The public works department is 2 percent over its capital budget, and the fire department is 21 percent over its capital budget. These overages are on top of the full amount budgeted.

When council questioned the fire department overage, Harte said he wasn’t sure why it reflected the overage, but then offered that the numbers may not be true to reality.

“That’s probably because there’s some grant money in there,” he said. “We may not have adjusted for those items yet.”

Also Monday, city spokeswoman Ruby Hamb-Holmes released a one-page note from Harte regarding the fiscal 2012 audit. In it, Harte congratulates the city on a $8.4 million surplus in the general fund.

“In essence, what this means is that the City’s net worth grew,” the release stated. “This is no small accomplishment in light of the economic conditions that the City worked through over the last five years.”

Harte explained the city incurred $84.7 million in expenses for fiscal 2012, which was mainly paid with $69 million from service fees, grants and contributions. In addition, the city collected $24 million of taxes and fees, which allowed for an $8.4 million carryover into fiscal 2013.

An auditor has given the city a clean bill for fiscal 2012.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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