Petersburg passes ‘cut to the bone’ budget

Due to loss of anticipated monies from sales tax collections for several months as a result of the coronavirus, revenues for Petersburg’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-21 budget have been “cut to the bone,” according to Don Mills, with MF Group P.C. CPAs and Consultants, who have been hired to oversee the town’s finances and prepare the budget.

When the new fiscal year budget goes into effect July 1, officials will have to keep a close watch on expenditures, since “there is no fat in the budget,” Mills stated.

The mayor and aldermen met Tuesday, June 16 in a special called meeting to discuss and go over the budget with Melissa McGee, CPA, CDFA, CMFO, with MF Group P.C. CPAs and Consultants, who was delayed 30 minutes in getting to the 6 p.m. meeting.

Mayor Logan Jolly called the meeting to order, led the invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance. The four aldermen in attendance were James Lyell, Jessica Moore, Charles Talley and Randy McDonald.

“The budget I just brought you has been prepared on an official spreadsheet from the [state] Comptroller’s office,” McGee told the five aldermen after giving them copies of the budget.

Previously, Petersburg had not been filing their budgets on the state-mandated forms although they filed legally adopted budgets.

As a Certified Municipal Financial Officer, McGee will work with town officials on a monthly basis for $1,200 a year. Mills described her job as “very rigorous classroom work.” The Group will be paid $500 a month; one of their jobs includes auditing the state-required audit at the end of each fiscal year.

Petersburg will close out its books for FY 2019-20 anticipated revenues and expenditures with the following amounts:

General Fund Revenues                               $205,500                               Expenditures                       $240,376

State Street Aid Revenues              24,000                Expenditures                         25,000

Refuse Fund Revenues                  43,000                 Expenditures                         39,500

Water Fund Revenues                  261,201                 Expenditures                       203,210

Fund balances or deficits:

General Fund                 $ 89,773.00

State Street Aid                              12,381.00

Refuse Fund                    55,868.00

Drug Fund                         1,719.00

Water Fund                    853,386.00

The town owes $260,271 in 2017 Bonds, which was used for street improvements. The FY 2020-21 budget shows $12,219 in Principal and $7,157 for a total of $19,376 to be paid toward that debt.

The town will receive $21,201 for its share of $50 million given to cities and towns as part of the pandemic economic recovery package. The dollar amount is based on population and is expected to be received in July. Petersburg had to apply for these funds and the money has to be shown in the upcoming fiscal year budget. It is earmarked as capital projects and proposed funding for Water system upgrades.

During the meeting, Alderman Moore asked questions about the “sinking car fund,” the name given to a fund whereby money is allocated each year until enough is accumulated to purchase a new police car. She also asked about appropriations to the fire department when a fire truck was purchased two years ago.

Mayor Jolly and McGee explained the process of moving funds to the fire department from the general fund when the fire truck was purchased for $14,000. The fire department had the funding; however, once the truck was purchased $10,000 was moved from the general fund so the fire department would have money in their account.

The budget as presented was unanimously approved.

A Public Hearing on the budget will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 29 at the Town Hall. Following the public hearing, the Board will adopt the FY 2020-21 budget by ordinance. The new budget goes into effect July 1, 2020.

Two new aldermen will come on board following the August 6 Primary. According to the Lincoln County Election Commission, Jacob Bradford and Rita Cowan qualified to be on the ballot , and Corey Smith is running as a write-in.