HIGH SPRINGS – The fiscal year 2011/2012 audit report for the City of High Springs was presented to the city commission at the April 25, 2013 commission meeting.

Accountant Richard Powell, of Powell and Jones Certified Public Accountants, presented commissioners with the report which found an unassigned fund balance of $826,585 to be spent at the city’s discretion.

Following that meeting, Mayor Sue Weller explained, “Approximately $500,000 of that amount is designated as two months operating expenses. The rest is contingency fund, which the City is currently working to build up.”

The report also found a decrease of about $844,078 of the City’s general fund balance as a result of large capital outlays in transportation and culture and recreation departments.

Some of the City’s capital investments include roadway improvements in the downtown area, a gazebo in the downtown parking lot, two new police patrol cars as well as a new dispatch communication system, and renovations and upgrades to the old school building and civic center. It also includes construction of a wastewater collection system currently in progress.

Mayor Weller said several of the capital investments were completed using grant funds, such as the gazebo and upgrades to the old school building. In the case of the police dispatch communication system, “there was a significant capital investment made by the City,” she said. As part of his update to commissioners at a recent commission meeting, Chief Steve Holley explained that “several pieces of equipment no longer needed by other government agencies were obtained at little or no cost to the City.”

“Because of grants and donations, some of the capital investments mentioned by the auditor cost the City little or nothing,” she said.

According to the report, the City’s sewer system accounts for one of its major losses and highest expenses. Powell said compared to others funds for water and solid waste, both of which almost covered their losses, the sewer system fund has not, and is in fact losing money. Commissioner Bob Barnas said the sewer system seems to be draining a lot of money and appears to be getting worse in comparison to last year’s audit. Powell said it looks like the user charges associated with the sewer system aren’t sufficient enough to pay for its operating expenses and debt.

Mayor Weller said later, “The 2010-2011 commission had voted to raise the sewer rates during the next fiscal year, knowing that an increase in rates was needed in order to support the sewer system. However, when it came time for the 2011-2012 commission to take official action to raise the rates, the majority on that commission, Dean Davis, Bob Barnas and Linda Gestrin, decided they did not want to raise the sewer rates and quashed the earlier commission’s decision.

“There are going to be a lot of things that this commission will discuss during this year’s budget process. We certainly have to look at that issue as well as others,” she concluded.

After the presentation, Mayor Weller said the audit came out clean with no real issues and asked fellow commissioner if they wanted to make a motion on accepting the report. The motion passed and the audit was accepted.

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