Tahlequah City Mayor Sue Catron has not spent much time yet reviewing the recently approved audit. Her next step is "wrapping up the year" by making the audit available to the public, and she hopes to have that ready sometime this week.
“One of the things you need to look at when going over the audit is that it represents the city of Tahlequah as a whole,” said Catron. “You can get the total from what happened in the city, but also from our component units.”
The city of Tahlequah is considered the primary government, and operates separate legal entities, including Tahlequah Public Works Authority, Tahlequah Hospital Authority, Tahlequah Industrial Authority, Tahlequah Education Facilities Authority, Tahlequah Public Facilities Authority and City Light and Water Department. These entities must provide their audits as well.
TPWA transferred $1,311,366 to the City Light and Water department. Those funds are to pay director fees, legal fees and municipal lighting expenses.
Transfers from City Light & Water are the general fund’s second-largest source of revenue.This year’s transfer of $1,311,366 accounted for 13.3 percent of total revenues. That decreased from last year by $12,956.
The financial analysis of the city’s funds concluded that general fund expenditures were $1,788,556 and revenues were $549,980. Both were below budgeted amounts.
"Net position" – which is the value of the position subtracting the initial cost of setting it up – increased by $95,987.
Total sales tax revenue was $5,828,427. Sales tax accounted for 59 percent of this year’s total revenues for the general fund. Use tax collections were above budgeted projections by $22,713 and up by $38,756 from the previous year.
Through the services of American Municipal Services to collect warrants and old fines, several thousand dollars were received. Municipal Court fines, fees, costs and forfeitures fell below projections in the amount of $61,155; $622,864 was collected. That amount is $72,257 more than the previous year.
Interest income rose from the previous year in the amount of $7,797. Current funds invested totalled $2,930,766, and $3,700,518 was held for daily operations.
The city is on a partially self-funded insurance plan, and employees are still required to pay $25 a month for health insurance. Funds available for payment of claims decreased from $358,295 to $316,168.
Michael Green, the certified public accountant who performed the audit report, said there the city doesn't have much debt on its plate, other than lease purchases – something he said should not be a source of great concern.
Jason Nichols, former Tahlequah mayor, said cities cannot technically go into debt.
“The voters of Tahlequah approved a series of bonds to be issued by a trust authority through the city, and those bonds are debt, but they are not issued by the city," he said.
The city pledges a tax revenue to pay off that debt over the course of 15 years.
In 2013, voters approved a bond for close to $22 million worth of improvements, which got the city's capital needs caught up.
Nicholas said about $5.1 million is still left of that bond money.