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Town’s finances are healthy

(2/21) Emmitsburg got a clean audit for fiscal year 2007. This means that town monies were spend where town staff said they were and monies were spent in the amounts that said were spent.

Though the town finished the year $68,429 in the black, the audit shows that town expenses climbed faster than town revenue.

The general fund, which is what pays for most of the town’s operating costs, took in 11.8 percent more than fiscal year 2006, but it paid out 29.9 percent more. In dollar figures, the town took in $175,460 more and spent $352,858. The audit notes that the main reason for the large jump in general fund expenses was a 50 percent increase in electric rates and other utility increases.

Looking at the final costs over budgeted amounts shows that the only areas where the town actually cut expenditures below budget were in public safety and recreation and culture. General government, public works and debt service were all higher than budgeted.

The town’s water and sewer systems are operated separately, in self-sustaining accounts.

“Both were operating in a very positive way,” said Michele Mills with Draper and McGinley, the company that performed the audit.

This is “due in large part to government grants received and the creation and collection of a water and sewer surcharge on all new taps,” according to the report.

One disturbing note in the audit is that the town payments on its debts is going to increase nearly five-fold for the years 2013-2017. Thereafter, it will remain much higher than it currently is until the year 2028. And this is only if the town doesn’t take on any new debt.

On the other hand, a positive note in the report reads, “For the foreseeable future the Town of Emmitsburg will be making a considerable annual investment, via its Enterprise Funds, in infrastructure re-construction and maintenance in an effort to play catch-up after many years of inadequate funding in this area.”

The town also finished the years with $859,385 in its fund balance, of which, $645,510 is unrestricted. This is essentially the town’s rainy day fund. It makes up 42 percent of the general fund. The Government Finance Officers Association recommends a fund balance of 5-15 percent of the general fund.

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