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Linden financial audit shows city breaks even’

LINDEN &045; Although economic factors and lower than expected tax revenue have affected the city, a financial audit for the last fiscal year shows Linden was nearly balanced out with revenues and expenditures.

The report, which was prepared by Aldridge Borden Company in Montgomery, was judged as a clean audit by council members Tuesday night.

According to the report, revenue into the city increased three percent from fiscal year 2006 due to grants received from the county for park and recreation improvements at the tennis court and Scott Park. This increase in revenue offset a five percent loss in sales tax revenue.

Billy Cox, who helped prepare the city’s audit, said this relationship is what allowed the city to essentially &8220;break even&8221; when it came to the amount of money being brought in by the city and the amount of money being paid out.

In terms of expenditures, the city spent more money on general government and civic improvements than was budgeted, but less money than budgeted was spent on public safety, public works and culture and recreation. The city also decreased their long-term debt by $105,221 by making payments on their debt service funds.

For net assets, the city saw a loss of $153,914, which the report described as being &8220;fueled in part by vacation payouts, additional police personnel and capital outlay expenditures.&8221; In the previous fiscal year, the city lost $145,280 in net assets.

A final finding in the report is about the city’s ability to make an assessment on its own financial statements. The report states, &8220;The city does not currently have someone in management that has the necessary expertise and training to make certain assertions necessary to make this assessment,&8221; which Cox explained is the result of a new auditing standard stating the auditing firm can no longer be responsible for such an assertion.

Cox recommended the council seek the assistance of a volunteer from the community who may have the necessary expertise to perform this task.

Cox also had other recommendations for the council, which included recruiting more industry to the area to help grow the economy. He also suggested the city look for ways to offer more revenue-generating services to bring in more funds to the city. One example was offering Internet, cable or cell phone services through the city instead of private companies.

Another possibility to generate revenue for the city, Cox said, is to look forward to the Interstate 85 expansion and push for having an exit that would route to Linden. This could provide opportunities for business that would ultimately benefit the city.

Cox’s final suggestion to the council was to look into the state of the utility board and the city, both of which are considered separate entities. Although they are separate, the utility board does not pay a franchise fee to the city for the services they provide. Cox said a rearrangement of the relationship between the two entities could potentially bring in more revenue for the city.

Councilwoman Mitzi Gates responded to these suggestions, saying she, too, would be looking for ways to help grow the city financially. One particular area she focused on was the recruitment of industry.