News Analysis by: John Zippert, Co-Publisher
At its special called meeting on October 19, 2021 the Eutaw City Council approved its budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2021 and goes to September 30, 2022. The budget covers all city operations, services and capital improvements and shows a surplus of more than a quarter million dollars for the year.
It must be noted that this is the first budget that the city has had in more than ten years. Mayor Latasha Johnson, when she was campaigning for the position said that she was going to develop a city budget, make expenditures based on the budget, report to the City Council and the public as expenses were made against the budget and have an audit of city finances each fiscal year.
Upon taking office, Mayor Johnson employed retired attorney Ralph Liverman as financial consultant to help in untangling the city’s finances and developing a budget. Liverman has been working with the Mayor and City Council for the past year in tracking down the city’s finances and developing the budget that was recently approved. Liverman also assisted in securing new accounting software, which will allow reporting of revenue and expenses based on the budget line-item categories. This will give the Mayor, Council, city staff and the public a better understanding of the city’s finances.
A summary chart of the budget is included to show the seven basic funds of the city, their revenues, expenditures and projected surplus. The summary shows $4,807,716 in revenues, $4,526,200 in expenditures and a surplus of $281,516.
There are separate pages which breakdown the details for each of the seven funds. The projections of income are based on funds received from taxes, license fees, bingo allocations, water and sewer payments and other revenues generated by the city in the past year. Expenses are based on current staffing and compensation paid, supplies used, operational and other costs based on actual and project ted amount.
The budget also includes payment of loans for the water system and other capital improvements, such as sewage line extension and lighting for the Love’s Travel Center at Exit 40 and Interstate Highways 20/59. This includes annual payments on the recent loan of $500,000 from Merchants and Farmers Bank to purchase equipment including: police cars, trucks, a knuckle-boom truck to pick up debris on the side of city streets and roads, a street-sweeper and other needed equipment.
The full detailed budget is available at City Hall and may soon be posted to the City’s website, so the residents of Eutaw can see in-depth the
financial plans, projections and results for the city. The budget will also help the Mayor and City Council to plan for new expenses, new capital needs, and new grant projects that may require matching funds.
The Mayor and the Council are to be commended for the hard work needed to clarify its finances and develop this budget planning and financial accountability tool to help guide the future directions and decisions of the city administration.