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2009-01-01

Audit delivered early Christmas present to city

By Judith Pannebaker

With dire financial portents swirling about their heads and money sometimes seemingly slipping through their fingers, the Bandera City Council received a welcomed Christmas present - refreshing news about the municipality’s fiscal situation.

During the Thursday, Dec. 18 meeting, Eric Ede of Ede & Company Certified Public Accountants presented the municipality’s recently completed 2007-2008 financial audit.
The bottom line, Ede said, was that the audit had received an “unqualified opinion.” Many might not consider that a stellar recommendation, but apparently to money wonks, it is. “That’s the best (rating) you could have received,” Ede told the council.

He said the largest deficit was outstanding municipal fines, which amounted to approximately $200,000 - mostly owed by out-of-towners.

“What can we do about (collecting) the fines?” asked Councilman John Hegemier. Not a lot, it seemed.

“Finding someone to shake the bushes for collections seems kind of futile,” Ede said, adding the average fine of $175 would take at least that much - if not more - to collect.

Adding, “Authorities are supposed to turn up outstanding fines when drivers renew their licenses but that doesn’t always happen,” Ede advised the city administrator to write off the unpaid fines after three years.

While fines and forfeitures have decreased, sales and property taxes have increased with park revenue soaring from $20,000 to $60,000.

In addition, the current city fund balance of $1.2 million showed a sizable increase, according to Ede. “The utility fund balance sheet is also in good shape,” he said.

Wanting to know the bottom line, Mayor Pro Tem Monica Halsey asked, “How do we compare to other cities?”

“I’m really impressed with your financial position,” Ede replied, “especially for a city this small.”