The City of Lake Charles released it's annual financial report Wednesday, which reveals some serious growth and strength in finances.
“A lot of focus in the public life is on budgets - a budget this a budget that but at the end of the day, it's not the budget that matters, it's the financial report at the end of the year,” said Mayor Randy Roach.
The financial report shows the general fund revenues reached $70 million this past fiscal year - $3.9 million more than last year.
“We came within budget and it shows that our managing heads are managing their departments; it shows that our employees are efficient at what they’re doing and that we're able to do that within the limits of the revenue that the taxpayers give us,” said Roach.
It’s more than just within the limits - there was actually a large surplus as well.
“He (Roach) struck a balance between taxpayers money - you accumulate and collect and he's used those funds to accomplish much over 17 years, but at the same time, he balanced the amount of money you keep in reserve for the future,” said Karen Harrell, financial director,
That reserve has come in handy before, dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Rita.
“There was no money coming into the city. Had it not been for that rainy day fund, we would have had a more difficult time in our recovery,” said Roach.
Due to the quarter-cent tax levy in 2016, city employees including fire and police saw pay increases.
Also, the increase in revenue lead to $33 million in capital project expenditures, like the new waste water treatment plant as well as other much-needed infrastructure projects.
“We're investing in that infrastructure putting our money in those kinds of things simply because that is what’s going to be required to maintain a reasonable quality of life and be able to provide for growth and opportunity,” said Roach.
Read the full news release below:
City auditors made a presentation regarding the city’s comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2016 at the City Council agenda meeting on Tuesday, April 11.
The General Fund revenues of $70 million were an increase of $3.9 million over prior year collections of $66 million. Included in the increase is $2.3 million in new revenue from an additional quarter-cent sales tax levy that became effective January 1, 2016. Existing sales tax revenues increased by two percent. Total sales tax revenues of $45 million accounts for 64 percent of all General Fund revenues. Property tax revenues increased by $952,000 or 11 percent to $9 million.
Actual General Fund operating expenditures and transfers of $64.4 million were an increase over prior year expenditures of $61 million. Salaries of $24.9 million accounts for nearly 42 percent of total expenditures and were up $1.8 million.
As a result of the October 2015 election, the City implemented a new pay plan effective January 1, 2016. All Fire Department personnel received a ten percent across the board increase and all other employees received an eight percent across the board pay increase. This is in addition to the two percent longevity pay for eligible employees. Entry level pay for all firemen was increased by ten percent and police officers’ pay was increased by eight percent. Starting pay for non-public safety positions was also increased by 8 percent. This follows a two percent across the board increase give to all employees on January 1, 2015.
In addition to authorized operating transfers to other funds, $7 million was transferred from the General Fund for wastewater capital projects during fiscal year 2016. The General Fund had an ending fund balance of $30 million on September 30, 2016, which represents 46 percent of 2016 expenditures and operational transfers.
The 2016 budget was amended across all governmental funds to provide for a transfer of $15 million to the Capital Project Fund to provide funding for the $42 million Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Capital project expenditures were $33 million in fiscal year 2016, compared to $14 million in the prior year. This increase is primarily due to the construction of the new wastewater treatment plant. Other projects included streets and drainage, sidewalks, lift station and sewer line repairs, water system improvements, and various recreation facility projects.
The audit was prepared by the firm of McElroy, Quirk and Burch. They issued the City an unmodified opinion on its financial statements for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016. The report did note two immaterial findings of misappropriation of property, which combined totaled less than four hundred dollars. Both items were discovered by the City and reported to the auditors prior to the audit.
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