City making fiscal stridesPublished 12:38am Sunday, December 16, 2012
The clean audit of the city’s 2011-2012 fiscal-year books provides evidence the City Council is making strides in its journey to get the city’s finances under better control.
The city ended the 2011-2012 fiscal year in the black, as it should. Although expenses in the general fund outpace that fund’s revenues, the overall city budget saw revenues come in higher than expenses.
Still, there’s room for improvement. As Councilman Doug Mercer noted, in eight of the past 10 fiscal years, the expenses in the general fund were more than revenues, requiring transfers of money from other areas of the budget to the general fund to balance the general fund.
The council continues its effort to have the general fund’s revenues dictate the general fund’s expenses. In other words, having a balanced general fund or a general fund that ends the fiscal year with a bit of a surplus.
The audit also show the city is reducing the amount of the annual transfer from the electric fund to the general fund.
That annual transfer used to be more than $1 million. In recent years, that transfer has been less than $1 million. Don’t be surprised if the transfer amount in the upcoming fiscal year is below $800,000, possibly as low as $700,000.
The city’s “rainy day” fund is about $6.1 million, or about half of its general fund. The Local Government Commission, which keeps an eye on local governments’ fiscal affairs, recommends that a “rainy day” fund be at least 8 percent of the general fund. That 8 percent translates into about a month’s revenue. In Washington’s case, it has about six months’ revenues in its “rainy day” fund.
Kudos to the City Council and city staff for improving the city’s fiscal outlook. Keep making those improvements.