GREEN COVE SPRINGS – As the budget season approaches in a few months, Green Cove Springs’ independent audit came back clean.
The only blip was a general fund deficit of $75,000 in the unassigned category. The audit was conducted by James Moore & Co.
Two reasons for the deficit is the combined $9 million spent on the new Police EOC building and the Spring Park project.
The other is the estimated $460,000 reimbursement from FEMA due to Hurricane Irma. City Finance Director Marlena Guthrie said FEMA usually reimburses 75 percent, and the state kicks in 12.5 percent.
“That still leaves 12.5 percent that the city has to come up with that’s not reimbursed by FEMA or the state,” Guthrie said. “There’s always going to be a gap between what you spent and what you get reimbursed for.”
The city was reimbursed about $200,000 for Hurricane Matthew.
“I wish I could guarantee it would be here by the end of the year, but I’ve lost that battle before,” James Moore & Co CPA James Halleran told city council members last month.
Guthrie said a general fund deficit of $75,000 could delay a project. City officials would develop a plan to erase the deficit over five years.
“You basically have to prioritize,” Guthrie said.
City Manager Steve Kennedy said the goal is limit the deficit’s effect on the budget and eventually restore a positive balance. Receiving an audit without a finding doesn’t happen all the time, he added.
“Marlena [Guthrie’s] desire and mine would be to get that back to positive as soon as we can, just for the way it appears,” Kennedy said. “It’s not good necessarily to have that deficit, but a mitigating part of that is if you can identify specifically what caused it, as opposed to spending and lacking control and management of the budgets.”
Also noted in the audit was the city’s net position increasing by $1.7 million, or 3 percent. Business-type revenues increased by $1.7 million.
The city is currently paying off about $14.9 million in debt service. About $5 million is for government-type activities such as the Spring Park Project and the Police EOC building. The other $9.9 million involves utility funds, leases on vehicles, the new wastewater treatment plant and other infrastructure-related services.