Auditor praises Town’s finances

BLYTHEWOOD – The town’s auditor, Gary Bailey of Love Bailey, CPAs, had nothing but good news and high praise for the Town of Blythewood’s finances Monday evening during the presentation of the Town’s 2020 audit. Mayor Bryan Franklin passed all the glory along to Town Administrator Brian Cook and Office Manager Julie Emory.

“They keep a close eye on our budget at all times,” Franklin said. “Several years ago, we had issues of great concern and these two have shored everything up.”

Clean Balance Sheet

“Your processes are good. There are no findings,” Bailey said, issuing an unmodified or clear opinion. “Even with COVID, everything is going really well here, at least through last June 30. You’ve weathered the COVID storm very nicely.”

While Bailey noted that the Town’s accommodation and hospitality tax revenue took a hit, the balance sheet painted a pretty picture overall.

“You have a really clean balance sheet that’s top heavy with lots of assets compared to liabilities,” Bailey said.

The Town’s cash balance at fiscal year end was $2.253 million, a steady increase over the last few years, Bailey pointed out, with an increase from $1.2 million in 2018 to $1.8 million in 2019 to $2.253 Million currently.

“A nice steady incline,” he said, attributing the increase to steady growth and a significant increase in franchise fees.

“You have $375,000 in accounts receivable, most of which is franchise fees,” Bailey said. “That’s because the fees were earned in June, 2020, but won’t get claimed until July or August of 2021.”

Looking at the Town’s liabilities, Bailey noted that the town has some accounts payable and accrued liabilities such as payroll taxes of $58,000, but he said that is just the Town’s usual, ongoing payments.

Fund Balance

At $4.3 million, the Town’s fund balance has increased a little over $1 million from last year. Bailey said $2.8 million of that is in the general fund and unassigned, money the Town can spend with out restrictions.

“The Governmental Financial Offices Association recommends that towns have at least 16.7 percent – or two months operating expenses – in unassigned funds at all times,” Bailey said. “The Town of Blythewood has approximately 180 percent. So, you are very well funded based on what the GFOA says you should have.

Revenue

The Town’s overall revenue increased by 5.3 percent since last fiscal year. The accommodation and hospitality tax funds were down, but the general fund was up, primarily due to continually increasing franchise fees.

In 2018, the Town’s revenue from franchise fees was $284,000. In 2019, it grew to $348,000 and this year it’s $513,000.

“All your other lines have slight increases as well,” Bailey told council members. “But your franchise fees have really jumped every year.”

Expenses

The Town’s expenditures were up about $81,000, with $68,000 of that attributed to salaries and increasing retirement match.

Bailey again emphasized the Town’s rosy financial picture, stating that its net income for the year was $1.63 million, and pointing out that $658,000 of that was in the general fund.

“The budget you voted on last year improved appreciably,” Bailey said. “You were expecting about $189,000 in net income, but you ended up with $658,000 net income. So that ads to your unrestricted net position.”

Manor Took a Hit

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, Doko Manor, which depends on crowds for its business, took a hit, losing about $900,000.

“The general fund contributed a little funding to The Manor so that by the end of the year it had a cash balance of about $174,000 – still a very good financial position,” Bailey said.

Franklin commented that Blythewood’s finances are probably one of the best of municipalities in the state.  Bailey agreed.

“You’re doing really well,” Bailey assured council. “You can see that if you go back and track your finances,” he said.

The audit will be available for inspection online or at town hall.

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