Demopolis City Council receives audit findings

Published 1:59 pm Friday, June 24, 2016

The Demopolis City Council received a review of its annual audit during a meeting on Thursday, June 16.
Richard LeCroy of LeCroy, Hunter and Co. CPA firm presented the council with findings of an audit and it was mostly good news for the city. The audit covered fiscal year 2014-15, which ended last September.
According to the report, the city’s revenue during that time was $10.051 million while expenditures were $9.398 million for a surplus of $956,000.
The city saw its sales tax grow over the prior year and its debt service is rated an A-plus.
The audit included a review of financial controls within the city as well as department budgets. LeCroy said the city ended the year with money in the bank, including $5.149 million that included the city’s reserves, cash deposits, and checking accounts. There is also $151,000 in restricted funds.
The net fixed assets for the city is valued at $26 million while net assets is $13 million.
“The net assets have deteriorated some due to required adjustments for unfunded pensions required by the Retirement Systems of Alabama,” LeCroy said.
He said the city received $225,00 in grants, most of which was used for airport improvements.
“There is an increase in net assets. It was a good year. The expenditures are down, primarily in capital improvements where the city did a lot of paving in 2014,” he said.
At the end of the presentation the council approved the audit findings.
Mayor Mike Grayson said he was pleased with the audit findings.
“It was very positive for the city. We work hard to provide city services within the budget. Financially, things are going well. But, we have to keep doing the best we can with what we have and strive to improve. Every department is under review every day,” Grayson said.
In other business, the council is seeking requests of proposal for a possible project connecting Roman Alley to Fields Street.
The council members have been discussing possible solutions to problems along Roman Alley for some time. Officials said the dead-end street is too narrow for some emergency response vehicles and drivers have a hard time turning around to get off the street.
“It’s difficult, if not impossible, to get emergency vehicles in there,” said Mayor Grayson. “Instead of kicking this down the road, let’s get a course of action.”
The council is considering connecting Roman Alley to another street to eliminate the need to turn around and are asking for requests for proposal from engineering firms.
The council is also looking at problems involving a ditch on Decatur Street. Councilman Charles Jones said a retaining wall could help with erosion, which is effecting a resident’s yard. Jones also said there are other options he would like to look in to and bring back to the next council meeting. No action was taken on the item.
Police Chief Tommie Reese asked the council to consider placing speed bumps on Third Avenue.
“We’ve been tracking the traffic and you’d be surprised of the number of cars on that road. The average speed is 46 miles per hour, 16 over the speed limit. It is a busy road,” Reese said.
The council added that speed bumps were needed on Floyd Street.
The council approved the placement of at least 5 speed bumps to be placed on the two streets.
The council asked City Attorney Bill Poole to look into placing on the dilapidated housing list a home on First Avenue that was recently destroyed in a fire. According to Fire Chief Vernon Waters the home is a public danger.
Other items discussed by the council included:
• Resident Yolanda Thomas spoke to the council about the upkeep of yards and homes in her neighborhood. Thomas said other property owners are cutting grass after recent efforts, but that nothing else is being done to fix the properties.
“People are not doing anything,” she said. “I’m tired, but I’m not giving up.”
• The council approved making the downtown square an entertainment district for the Hwy. 80 Songwriters Festival on July 2 and for Freedom on the River on July 4.
• The council approved adding a Dodge Durango to the surplus property list at the request of the horticulture department.
• Local developer Ben Sherrod requested the city revise its sales tax reimbursement contract for his business. He said the standard form includes language that does not apply to his business, which was grandfathered in after the council revised the plan earlier this year. The council approved to remove the language that does not apply.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, June 22, 2016 print edition of the Demopolis Times.)

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