|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 22 December 2010 00:00|
The Town of Camp Verde is facing a financial struggle in the upcoming budget year, but there are communities out there in worse shape, according to a report last week from a man who helped audit the local government’s books.
Scott Graff is an accountant with a Gilbert-based firm that recently conducted Camp Verde’s audit for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which ended June 30. Annual audits are required for municipal governments by state law.
Graff said his firm audits about 13 to 14 communities like Camp Verde every year.
While Graff said he’s always struck by how all of these towns tend to have a strong sense of community spirit, they’re all experiencing financial difficulties in the wake of the current economic downturn.
Since it would be nearly an impossible task for anyone to examine each and every single transaction, Graff said auditors focus a great deal on the rules a town has set up to govern those transactions, its system of checks and balances to keep a handle on where, and how its money is handled.
While Graff said there were a few areas that could be improved, they were minor issues he was certain the town’s finance department could correct, and he doubted he’d see them pop up again in a future audit.
The town has had its share of experiences with less-than-stellar financial controls in the past, but has worked hard in recent years to clean things up.
Graff credits “well written” new financial policies instituted by the town in July 2009 with helping to keep Camp Verde’s checks and balances over money in good shape.
Overall, the firm gave a clean opinion of the way Camp Verde handles its finances.
As for the actual numbers, revenue is on the decline, something the town’s leadership pretty much already knew.
Much of the audit focused on the town’s general fund— its main expense and revenue account, so to speak.
During the 2008-09 fiscal year, the town generated $6.37 million in revenue. That number dropped to $5.6 million in the past year.
Graff said measures to reduce spending were also effective during this time; expenditures were cut from $5.6 million to $5.4 million.
Some of the savings for the town also came from not spending money on streets, largely due to highway maintenance funding taking a hit.
“I don’t think we’re out of the crunch,” Graff said. “But I’ve presented to towns that are much worse off. We just have to continue to be wise and plan for future shortfalls in income.”
Graff also praised the town’s finance department, saying they were knowledgeable, and he felt he and the town staff easily understood each other when talking about accounting concepts.
Mayor Bob Burnside said he felt it would take action to help bring the town out of an economic slump. Burnside pointed out Camp Verde traditionally depended on agriculture and tourism.
“There’s not many bar stools sitting out there with only two legs,” Burnside said. “We’ve got to find a third.”
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