For a long time now, the city of Covington has been leading not only the state of Georgia, but also the nation in finances and development, according to a report by auditors Mauldin and Jenkins.
The firm of Mauldin and Jenkins LLC presented its 2014 through 2015 audit report during Monday’s city council meeting, telling the council “you have a financial statement that some other cities would just covet.”
Miller Edwards, who was in charge of Covington’s audit, reported to the council that there is enough money in the general fund to keep the city running for two or three years if revenues would completely stop.
There is $27 million worth of fund balance in the general fund, and the city, Edwards said, typically has $10 or $11 million in revenues each year.
“The general fund is in great shape,” Edwards said.
The audit also showed that the state of the city’s utilities is also something to be admired. Edwards said one of the most noticeable things about the city’s utility infrastructure is that while it has professional people in the field, management and on the city council keeping things in top shape, the utilities department is also a successful business enabling reinvestment into the city.
“If you’re going to be self-reliant and not go in the bond market, you have to have good positive cash flows to reinvest in themselves,” Edwards said. The utilities provide funding back into the general fund. You have a really nice situation in the city and it’s been that way for a long time, and it looks good.”
One of the few things Edwards said the city did have to look out for was the change to the pension funds, and that these changes needed to be accounted for in the city’s books going forward. These changes are centered on Other Post-Employment Benefits, also known as OPEB. While pensions are currently accounted for in the cities books, OPEB is not, which may cause some unaccounted for funding issues further down the road.
Tax abatements were also highlighted. According to Edwards these abatements can accumulate a lot of interest, which should be accounted for. A figure for the current and final value of these abatements is.
As a final statement, Miller Edwards said, “You do have a lot of things going [for Covington] that a lot of other cities don’t have” and that the city had a “spectacular last year.”