Financial audit gives Piedmont some good news
by Laura Gaddy
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Jun 05, 2013 | 3182 views |  0 comments | 102 102 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PIEDMONT – The Piedmont City Council received good economic news from an annual audit during a meeting Tuesday.

The report revealed that the city’s revenues increased while its expenditures fell during the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 2012.

City leaders attribute the situation to responsible spending, increased economic activities and the usual ebb and flow of the economy, but auditor Joan Sanders told the council that it was a sign of an economic recovery.

“I knew it was going to be a little bit better,” Mayor Rick Freeman said.

The audit revealed that revenue from the sales tax increased by $180,000 when compared to the previous fiscal year. It also showed that revenue from permits and licenses increased by $41,000 in that same time and that revenue from garbage services increased by $47,000.

During the same fiscal year, expenditures fell by $91,000 in public safety and by $11,000 in the street department, according to the audit.

“We did a lot of careful spending,” said Councilman Bill Baker, referring to the previous administration.

Baker said he was happy to learn that the city’s economy is showing improvement, but added that he wants to see it improve even more.

While some council members saw the audit as positive, longtime Councilwoman Mary Bramblett took a different view.

“It is about an average audit,” Bramblett said, attributing the gains to increased business in the city.

While the audit showed significant growth, it also included an economic hiccup in September. That month, the city owed roughly $1.5 million, though it only had about $500,000 in its accounts. When asked for clarification about the city’s finances that month, officials said they would have to review detailed financial records to provide an answer.

The city received about $500,000 in grant money that month, which helped enable it to pay the bills.

The mayor said the city’s economic health began improving shortly after September because tax revenue is collected during the winter months.

City leaders had said recently that a vote about a proposed utility deposit increase would likely be part of Tuesday’s meeting, but it was not included on the agenda and was not mentioned during the meeting.

Freeman said he decided to postpone a vote on the matter after meeting with Piedmont landlords Monday. The proposed increase would nearly double hook-up fees for renters in the city, if approved as written.

“What we’re trying to do is work with each other,” Freeman said.

The city will hold a second meeting with landlords Monday at 6 p.m. at the council chambers.

Staff Writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.
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