Audit Shows City of Columbia a “Model City”

Audit Shows City of Columbia a “Model City”
Posted on 01/18/2018

COLUMBIA, TN (Jan. 18, 2018) – At the December 2017 City Council meeting, the City of Columbia received a favorable, clean audit for the fiscal year July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, or FY 2017, reported in an independent audit by Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough (HHM). Jason Martin, a certified public account and partner with HHM, presented the 2017 audit and financial report to the Columbia City Council. Having worked with cities throughout Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, Martin referenced the notable growth and sound management of the city’s cash reserves, referring to the City of Columbia as a “model city.”

 

The City of Columbia ended 2017 with more than $38 million in the city’s governmental funds. The total fund balance for governmental funds, or cash on hand, at year-end increased more than $11 million compared to 2016. $25.5 million, or 67%, of total fund balance in the city’s governmental funds is unrestricted and unassigned in the city’s General Fund. The General Fund finances most of the city’s key services including public safety (police/fire), public works, development services, parks, and general government and administrative functions. The largest governmental fund, the General Fund’s 2017 fund balance increased $3.6 million over 2016.

 

“Financially, we are pleased to have a clean audit with no findings,” says Assistant City Manager Thad Jablonski, who also serves as the city’s finance director. “We look forward to another solid year for the city’s financial position, especially as Columbia continues to grow and manage financial resources to meet the needs of residents and any challenges that may arise.”

 

The City’s total tax revenues increased $1.1 million from the previous year totaling $24.9 million; local sales tax collections increased 6.7% to a total of $9.8 million, and business tax revenues increased 15.1% to $1.6 million during 2017. Capital grants and contributions totaled nearly $800,000, increasing more than 330% from 2016 due to a significant increase in project activity during 2017. The property tax rate remained constant with no increase.

 

State law requires that the city prepare audited financial statements each year. The City of Columbia prepares a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), demonstrating the highest commitment to financial reporting and providing a more informative financial report each year. The 2017 CAFR provides a comprehensive account of the city’s financial position, along with ensuring annual budget compliance and the effectiveness the city’s internal controls.  The Independent Auditor’s Report included in the CAFR promotes accountability, integrity, and openness in government. The information provided in the report is valuable to management, the City Council, and public stakeholders when assessing the government’s stewardship of public resources.

 

According to Martin, the city’s noteworthy 2017 budget year followed from key factors including “conservative decisions made by the city’s elected officials, sound financial management by city administration and an effective finance team”. “I’ve seen other cities that would spend $100,000 and not really blink an eye,” said Martin. “The fact that this council chooses to table things, look at the cost and really evaluate it, it just shows how conservative they are. And it works.”

 

For eighteen consecutive years the City has been awarded the Government Finance Officers Association’s (GFOA) Excellence in Financial Reporting Award in recognition of outstanding financial reporting and high accomplishments in the city’s stewardship of public resources. The Columbia Finance Department applied for the award again for 2017 following the release of the city’s comprehensive annual financial report.

 

"As a City, it is our duty to the community to be financially responsible and transparent in City operations. The positive, clean report from this independent annual audit is the result of the expertise and commitment of many dedicated staff throughout the City,” states Mayor Dean Dickey.

 

To view the City of Columbia 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (audit), visit http://columbiatn.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_2587760/File/Government/Finance/2017%20Columbia%20CAFR%206-30-17.pdf.