Pulaski Council hears mostly good news on latest audit

Pulaski Council hears mostly good news on latest audit

Pulaski Town Council heard generally good news from the auditor Tuesday night, even though some of the financial numbers reviewed weren’t where council would like them to be.

Also, council approved documents related to the James Hardie project and praised town employees for snow removal efforts from last weekend’s winter storm.

Emily Viers, a Certified Public Accountant with Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates of Blacksburg, reported to council on the recently completed audit of the town’s finances.

Viers said the town had received a “clean unmodified opinion,” which is the audit opinion desired, meaning the auditor believes the town’s financial statements are materially correct as presented.

Viers reminded council that last year the town did have a finding related to material audit adjustments.

“I’m happy to report that we don’t’ have that kind of finding again in the current year,” Viers stated.

One concerning issue reviewed by Viers had to do with the town’s Unassigned Fund Balance or “reserves.”

Viers said it is desired that a town government have enough revenue in reserve for two months of expenditures – or roughly a figure equal to 17 percent of the town’s budget.

She said currently Pulaski’s reserve is at 6 percent.

“That’s lower than we’d like to see,” Viers said.

Viers reviewed with council how the town’s reserves had declined from a high of $1.6 million in 2016 to $412,000 in the current year.

Viers explained the town had received between 2016-18 large amounts of revenue from the sell of cell tower leases and from transfers from the water fund. Reserved funds have dropped off the last couple years because those revenue increases hadn’t occurred.

“The important thing is what’s being done to address this downward trend,” Viers said, noting that Town Manager Darlene Burcham and Finance Director Rebecca Leeper are taking steps to turn the situation around. Steps Viers said should “help pretty significantly.”

Council approved documents pertaining to three grants received by the town for the upcoming multi-year James Hardie Project.

Burcham reported the town had received a $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), a $700,000 grant from the state Department of Housing and Community Development and $1.2 million from the EPA to fund the project. James Hardie will also be participating.

The project involves treating wastewater from the Hardie plant closer to where it is transferred to the Peppers Ferry Regional Wastewater Treatment plant.

Finally, several councilmembers praised Public Works Department employees for the good job they did clearing town streets and sidewalks of snow following last weekend’s winter storm.

“Public Works employees were out Saturday night, went home for a couple hours and were heard back out working at 3 a.m.,” said Burcham.

“Considering the equipment they have and the size of the staff, they did an incredible job. I went out Sunday afternoon and was very pleased. There’s always going to be a street or an alley, but we’ve gotten many compliments about their work,” she said.

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot