Room for improvement

Published 12:06 am Thursday, January 12, 2012

Although the City of Washington’s financial books for the 2010-2011 fiscal year are in order, according to a recent audit of those books, that audit did show a disturbing trend.

The city’s fund balance in the general fund has declined in the past two fiscal years. That’s occurred because the city has dipped into that fund balance because expenditures in the general fund exceeded revenues in the general fund.

It’s something City Council members Doug Mercer and Bobby Roberson have expressed concerns about in recent years. They, along with the mayor and other council members, want to reverse that trend. They want to stop borrowing from the fund balance to balance the general fund.

Their desire and commitment to accomplish that goal is sensible and commendable.

The council and Mayor Archie Jennings also want to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the annual transfer of funds from the electric fund to the general fund. That annual transfer has been reduced to under $1 million. It used to be more than $1 million.

That’s a move in the right direction. Weaning the general fund from those transfers makes financial sense. The challenge comes in finding other revenue sources to replace the revenue the general fund now receives from the annual transfer from the electric fund or reducing general-fund expenses so those transfers are no longer needed.

Yes, the city’s financial books may be healthy, but there’s nothing wrong with making the city’s financial picture even healthier.