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Solid waste only ‘sore’ in city audit

A Brookhaven audit report for fiscal year 2002 tells cityofficials what they already knew: the solid waste department islosing money.

Figures showing the operation ran at a $105,569 deficit in thefiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2002, was the only trouble areafound during the recent audit, said Verbalee Watts, cityauditor.

“We’re good everywhere except that solid waste,” Watts said.”That’s our only sore.”

Watts said city fathers were aware of the deficit situation andhave been trying much of the year to get the enterprise fund inbetter shape. Enterprise funds, such as the solid waste operationand water department, involve operations that are to be supportedby user fees.

“They’re trying to get that back straight,” Watts said ofofficials’ solid waste efforts.

In an area not directly revenue-related, Watts said the auditfound scrapped or surplus city equipment that was still beingcovered by insurance and newly-purchased equipment that was not.She attributed that to an oversight that city officials have beenworking to correct since the audit was completed in December.

“They’re aware of it and are trying to address the problem,”Watts said.

Watts said officials need to remember that when surplusequipment is taken off the inventory, it should be taken off theinsurance as well. She said Building Inspector Steve Moreton hadbeen put in charge of equipment insurance duties.

The 2002 audit listed a value of $18.6 million for fixed cityassets. Watts expected that total to rise next year when, under anew state law, values must be assigned to city infrastructure suchas roads and bridges.

“We’ve got to have an engineer to value that,” Watts said,adding that city fathers had been made aware of the need andupcoming changes.

In other asset areas, the audit showed the city with $6.6million in cash and other deposits. That was up from $5.7 millionat the end of 2001.

Watts attributed much of the difference to a $1 million paymentthe city received from the Wal-Mart Distribution Center during2002. She said it provided “a shot in the arm” for the city andhelped with some needed equipment purchases.

Aside from the solid waste situation, Watts said the 2002 auditpresented a good picture of city finances.

“The city, overall, is in good financial shape at this point intime,” Watts said.