By Frank Lewis
November 27, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
The city’s finances were, as they typically are, a subject of discussion at Monday evening’s Portsmouth City Council meeting.
“I would like to address the Auditor on the October month end reports,” Sturgill said. “The General Fund, as of the end of October, had a balance of almost $900,000, and we’ve only got, at this point, three enterprise funds with deficit balances?”
Sturgill asked City Auditor Trent Williams if there is anything the city can do to take money from the General Fund to cover the charge-offs taken from the enterprise funds and the city’s insurance fund, which currently has a deficit of nearly $900,000, since the General Fund has around a million dollars.
“There won’t be a million there at the end of December,” Williams said. “We have three payrolls in December. Generally, my rule of thumb, is that I like to have a million dollars at the beginning of November to be able to make it through December. If we have a million in November, we’ll be able to make it through December.”
Williams said he has been doing research on the budget, and his worst case scenario is that the city would end up even at the end of the year. He said his best case scenario is that the city would be $250,000 in the black.
“That’s based basically on our income tax collections,” Williams said. “I think I mentioned it a couple of meetings ago, that, if we stayed even with last year’s income tax collections through the last quarter of the year, then we should be at least in the black or better. And if those collections are better than last year, which they have been all year long, we’re actually close to a million dollars in collections and income tax over last year, and we had some other revenues and some charges that have gone against our General Fund that offset that. But with that, I think we’ll be somewhere between $100,000 to maybe $250,000 to the good in the General Fund.”
Williams said if Council wanted to, it could use the money in the General Fund at the end of the year to bring down the insurance fund, and come up with a formulation for covering the charge-offs in the enterprise funds, but he did not recommend the city do so.
Williams said it is his preference to see the city end the year with $250,000 in the General Fund, and the insurance fund stay at its current deficit, with the city focusing on bringing down that fund over the next two years, the plan the city gave the state after being placed on fiscal watch.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.