Budget talks continued with look at audit discrepancies

Jason Angus

June 18, 2014

The City Council continued talks about the Fiscal Year 2014-15 City of Altus Budget during a special meeting, Tuesday, June 17. The discussion focused on the debt the Altus Municipal Authority Trust owes the City of Altus as well as the end of FY 2013-14 fund balances to project future revenues and expenditures.

City Manager Elizabeth Gray, and Consulting Accountant Gayla Duke, began by revisiting this year’s audit report to allow Council to approach the budget process by taking into account several discrepancies, largely a $1.6 million dollar “inter-fund debt” the AMA borrowed from the City of Altus’ Emergency Fund. The money was borrowed in 2006, 2008, and 2012.

City Manager Gray mentioned early in the meeting that the debt had been mentioned several times, and “it’s time to clean it up. Either we write it off… or we make a payment plan.”

City Attorney Catherine Coke said she will research the legality of “writing off” that debt amount.

In addition, the audit findings showed a $390,098 debt the AMA owes the City of Altus’ Economic Development Construction Fund used for several building repair projects, and $18,000 of debt service.

Gray informed that the $390,098 was “swept” from the EDC Fund, along with other accounts, at a time when “the city was broke and trying to pay it’s bills,” and was never paid back.

Councilman Rick Henry pointed out that the EDC Fund is from sales tax revenues and should not have been taken out for any reason other than economic development.

Councilman Michael Beason added, “So before we can actually begin to discuss a budget for this fiscal year we have to have some proposed repayment plan for this $390,000 almost $400,000, and we have to determine the legalities of weather or not we need to repay the $1.6 million, almost $1.7 [million].” Beason also noted there is a $2.3 million dollar shortfall of revenue from this year to take into account.

Gray and Duke then presented detailed reports of all fund account balances for FY 2013-14 that reflected areas of excess revenue in contrast to deficits, and recommended a $260,742 budget amendment to the current year to balance this year’s budget.

Gray and Duke will return with a staff recommendation on available funds to be used to balance the budget, before continuing on the proposed FY 2014-15 Budget.

No action was taken.

Proposed budget discussions will continue tonight with a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the City Complex. Special meetings are scheduled through Saturday, June 21, at 5:30 p.m. until the budget is approved.