Last week’s meeting of Whitsett’s town council also featured a presentation of the town’s latest annual audit, which covered the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2020.
Becky Loy, a partner with the firm of Cobb, Ezekiel, Loy & Company, was on hand to share the results of this financial review, which she acknowledged was better than the town’s previous audit notwithstanding the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in the waning months of the year.
Loy acknowledged that the $179,735 in revenues which the town’s general fund accumulated in this latest financial cycle was a bit off from the $184,899 that it took in during the previous year. She added, however, that the previous year’s haul had been inflated by a one-time state grant for $25,000.
Loy also found no serious cause for concern in the general fund’s outlays of $187,378, which nevertheless represents a sizeable jump from the previous year’s total of $154,097. The town’s auditor pointed out that the more recent figure includes an additional $32,000 in capital outlays that had been duly recorded in the town’s annual budget. She also observed that the budget predicted a much greater deficit than the one which appears in the final accounting.
“You expected to use $37,000 of your fund balance, and you only used $7,000,” she added. “Where you are is really rather positive in my opinion, because you’re not at a very large deficit for the year.”
The town’s auditor noted that the “fund balance,” or cumulative savings, for the general fund dipped from $621,243 to $613,600 over the course of the year.
Loy conceded that she, like many others in her line of work, had anticipated a much sharper decline in public revenues due to the impact of the ongoing pandemic. She added that the intake from both sales and property taxes has proven surprisingly robust in most cities and towns – Whitsett included. Loy also noted a small increase in the town’s utility revenues, which was more than adequate to cover the outlays from the standalone fund that sustains Whitsett’s public water system.
Loy went on to offer a note of caution to the council about the distribution of the town’s financial responsibilities. She acknowledged that this admonition is fairly standard in her reports to smaller municipalities, which often lack the staff to disperse these duties in order to reduce the potential for fiscal mismanagement.
Loy nevertheless told the council that her latest audit uncovered none of the bookkeeping lapses which surfaced in her previous review of the municipality’s books.
“Last year,” she recalled, “we had several other concerns. But you guys have worked very hard to get your records in order.”