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Audit: City’s net position jumps 14% in fiscal 2016

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According to its annual audit, the city of Greenville had a 14% increase in its net position during fiscal 2016, resulting in an improvement of its overall financial position.

The audit, conducted by Greene, Finney & Horton LLP, also said the city came in $4.6 million under budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Total revenue for the city was $148.08 million compared to total expenses of $117.3 million for the year. The biggest expense in the city’s budget was for police (25.8% of city’s expenses) as the audit reported a $21 million expenditure for the department, up slightly from the $20.6 million the previous year.

The increase in overall net position was due to a $10.7 million increase in government activities and a $20 million increase in “business type activities” during the year. The city’s assets for fiscal 2016 totaled $445.3 million, compared to $412.2 million the prior year.

The city did have an overall increase in its liabilities for the year of $9.57 million due to a $2.37 million increase in “accounts payable related to construction projects” and a $7.7 million increase in the city’s net pension liability.

According to the audit, the city decreased its unrestricted deficit by $23 million over the year. In fiscal 2015, the unrestricted deficit was $25.1 million compared to just $2.1 million in 2016. The decrease in deficit “is attributable to increases in tax collections, business licenses and permits, operating grants and contributions for governmental activities and increases in stormwater, wastewater and parking rates for business-type activities.”

Of the city’s governmental activities revenue, property taxes contributed 42.7% while business licenses were 24% of the revenue. The largest percentage of business-type revenues came from parking, which was 26% of all business-type revenues. The TD Convention Center accounted for 17% while stormwater utility and wastewater utility was 14% each.

Of its business-type activities, stormwater, wastewater, parking and event management had higher revenue to expense. The TD Convention Center, Greenville Zoo, solid waste and transit all had higher expenses to revenue.

“In addition, fines and forfeitures were significantly lower than the prior year resulting from a decrease in the number of traffic tickets issued in part as a response to the nationwide law enforcement climate, coupled with new legislation restrictions, manpower shortages and additional administrative duties for state mandated programs including Report-beam and E-ticket,” the audit said.

The city had a 4.7% increase in revenues from business licenses, permits and franchise fees to just more than $35 million. Its property tax collections increased by $1.2 million over the previous year because of an increase in the collection rate for those taxes and “growth due to new construction permits.”

Expenditures from the city’s general fund increased by 0.1% due to an increase in required employer contributions to the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority, a $304,000 reduction in capital outlay spending and the offset of merit raises by position vacancies. The general fund balance decreased by $4 million to $22.8 million while the unassigned fund balance decreased by $3 million to $21.2 million, but was still 25.5% of total general fund expenditures for the year.

The city ended the fiscal year with $83.6 million in outstanding bonded indebtedness, a decrease of just under $1 million from the previous year. Reductions in bonded indebtedness came from general obligation bonds, tax increment bonds, revenue bonds and hospitality tax revenue bonds. There was a $7 million increase in installment purchase bonds.

The city council budgeted a 1.5% budgetary increase for fiscal 2017 and a 3.1% increase in the general fund. There is a projected fund balance increase of $1.5 million for the fiscal year.

“The budget emphasizes the continuing investment in people, reinvestment in City infrastructure and equipment, making targeted investments through economic development and productivity improvements, and replenishing financial capacity for signature projects,” the audit said.

The Greenville City Council accepted the audit during its Nov. 28 meeting.

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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