Taneytown rolling in money, audit shows NORTHWEST--Taneytown * Union Bridge * New Windsor * Uniontown

March 04, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Someone once said, "Money isn't everything; usually it isn't even enough."

Obviously, that person never saw a Taneytown city budget.

An audit of the city's finances through June 30, 1992, shows it took in nearly $260,000 more than it needed for general city expenses during fiscal year 1992.

"The city is in good shape to handle the future," City Manager Joseph A. Mangini Jr. said of Taneytown's ample savings. "We have been very fortunate in having good financial management in the past with the last city manager [Neal Powell] and the clerk-treasurer," Linda M. Hess.

From the looks of Taneytown's finances, Mr. Mangini is right.

Mr. Powell and Ms. Hess projected in the fiscal 1992 budget that $877,700 would be the city's incoming revenue and its expenses from the General Fund, which covers such city services as police, public works, recreation and general government.

The audit showed that the city spent only $636,719 while taking in $895,612 from taxes, fees for city services and licenses and permits, and state-shared sources such as income tax.

The surplus was about 41 percent of the money the city spent to run itself for the year.

"A surplus in the budget gives the city a cushion on which to fall in case of emergencies," said Mr. Mangini. "It's always best to be conservative on revenue and expansive on expenditures."

"If you propose $100,000 for something and you get $125,000, that's good planning," Mr. Mangini said. "You don't want it to go the other way."

The Utility Fund budget did not fare as well as the General Fund in the audit.

The accountants found a loss of $114,000 in the fund based on depreciation of equipment. But the city does not figure depreciation into the budget, Mr. Mangini said.

When the depreciation money is taken out of the figuring, the budget almost balances.

Almost.

Mr. Mangini said such expenses as city employees' salaries and their health insurance, and insurance for the utility system that should be paid by the Utility Fund, are being paid by the General Fund.

"The auditors quoted a figure of about $72,000 that is being taken from the General Fund to augment the Utility Fund," Mr. Mangini said. "When your Utility Fund cannot pay its own expenses, it usually means the user fees are too low."

Regardless of where the money is coming from, Taneytown's relatively small bills are getting paid.

The audit showed that at the beginning of fiscal 1993 -- July 1, 1992 -- there was $400,617 in the Utility Fund and about $973,446 in the General Fund.

Mr. Mangini said surpluses help government to be prepared for unexpected expenses, like the $1.5 million sewer-rehabilitation project that Taneytown faces.

"We're hoping to get $100,000 of that money from a grant, and some others for loans, but it's quite possible that half of the money we have saved may have to be committed to this project," said Mr. Mangini.

"We have been fortunate that the city has been able to build a nest egg for future projects such as this."

Mr. Mangini said that while the audit's findings will be taken into account, he will base his opinions about next year's budget on the notes he and Ms. Hess have taken as fiscal 1993 has progressed.

And aside from making a decision concerning the increasing cost of health care for city employees, he said, he sees no major hurdles to presenting a fair and balanced budget.

"Based on everything I'm seeing and as I look over this year's figures, I see no reason to recommend an increase in the tax rate," Mr. Mangini said.

"We've been cutting costs and even adding services like the trash pickup and recycling and haven't had to raise the tax rate."

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