Warrenton gets clean audit for 2020

By: 
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

The city of Warrenton received a clean review on a professional audit of its financial accounts for fiscal year 2019-2020.

The audit was performed by accounting firm Botz, Deal & Co. for the year ending in June 2020. The firm has conducted Warrenton’s audits for a number of years.

“(Warrenton’s) records are always in really great shape,” complimented auditor Allen Schulte during a Dec. 15 board of aldermen meeting. He said all of the city’s records are kept in accordance with accepted financial practices.

“The city has really good internal controls in place. There’s nothing we had to recommend there,” Schulte commented.

In terms of finances, Schulte said COVID-19 had a noticeable impact on the last months of the fiscal year. There was a decrease in revenue from things like court fines and aquatic center memberships. But Schulte confirmed the city’s sales tax revenue was up, something city officials observed over the summer.

“We’re kind of seeing ‘a tale of two cities’ this year when we go different places,” Schulte said. “If you’re a city that has a Walmart and a grocery store, a Dollar General ... you probably saw an increase in sales tax. If you were a city that has (many) restaurants and some other things that couldn’t operate, then you probably saw a decrease.”

Schulte said the city’s expenses in the police department were up because of added staffing, but down in recreation because of limited operations at the aquatic center.

Healthy accounts

According to the audit provided by Schulte, Warrenton made healthy gains in its long-term finances in the last fiscal year. 

The city’s financial assets increased by about $1.3 million, Schulte said, with the increase mostly concentrated in the fund that pays the debt for the new west I-70 interchange. Warrenton held about $18 million in financial assets in June, not including physical property owned by the city, according to the audit.

In terms of long-term debt, Warrenton saw a $1.2 million net decrease in the money it owes for future obligations and debt payments. Schulte said the city actually paid down about $1 million in debts on previous infrastructure projects, but also took on more obligations for projects such as North Highway 47 sidewalk construction.

Schulte said that while the city paid down debts on previous infrastructure projects, it also has future obligations for projects such as North Highway 47 sidewalk construction.

For the city’s general fund, which pays for daily operations, the audit showed $6.2 million in operational expenses, $1.4 million in debt service payments, and $7.7 million in revenue. Warrenton ended the fiscal year with $3.7 million in the general fund. Schulte said that represents a healthy reserve.

“The fund balance would cover about 225 days of expenditures, so a little over 7 months,” he commented.

Finally, on the topic of employee pensions, Schulte said the city has funded about 47 percent of its long-term pension liabilities since joining the LAGERS retirement program five years ago. That puts Warrenton on track for full funding in the next five to six years. The city’s current pension liability is $2.4 million.

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