By Wayne Allen
December 26, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
Trent Williams, Auditor of the city of Portsmouth, is projecting the city will end the current fiscal year with the positive general fund balance. He said the city has not had a positive general fund balance in the last three years.
“We’ve ended the last three years not in the black. When we started this year we were just over $900,000 in the red (negative fund balances) for the general fund,” Williams said. “We are looking to end this year with a positive general fund balance of a couple hundred thousand dollars.”
When asked what he credits the projected positive fund balance to, Williams said, “The first this is the income tax increase, but that could not have done it alone. The mayor and council have taken pretty good measures over the last couple of years to rein in costs.”
Williams said there is a renewed sense of optimism within the city.
“You’ll notice a difference in everyone working together more in the last two years than in previous years. It always helps when everyone is working towards a common goal,” Williams said.
When asked about projections for 2014, Williams said, “I was just looking at the mayor’s budget and he has a general fund balance ending next year of about $170,000.”
Williams said that may change with the priorities of the new city manager.
“As we are all aware we’re going to have a new city manager coming in and that could easily change based on what his priorities are for next year,“ Williams said.
Williams proclaimed the city will not have anymore deficits.
“That’s pretty much by state mandate these days. Though, it was almost unavoidable one of the last couple of years, in order to stay operating. Otherwise there would have had to have been a tremendous amount of services and employees that would have have been provided or employees working,” Williams said.
In April the city of Portsmouth was placed on Fiscal Watch status by the Auditor of State’s office.
According to released information from the Auditor of States website, the City of Portsmouth was placed in fiscal caution on Nov. 22, 2011 based on the city’s 2010 audited financial statements. The audit included various noncompliance issues with Ohio law, significant deficiencies, and material weaknesses.
When asked what the state’s reaction has been about ending the year with a positive general fund balance, Williams said, “We’ve met with local government services (a branch of the state auditor’s office), last week and they were very pleased. They will now look at our actual year-end (fund balances) and we will go from there. It’s looking a lot more positive than it did, I think that we’ve all come to the conclusion that it’s much better to operate within our means than to try to dig ourselves out.”
For more information about the city of Portsmouth and the services they offer visit, portsmouth.org.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.