City's fiscal health declared 'excellent'

December 03, 1997

City's fiscal health declared 'excellent'


Staff Writer

A mild winter and unexpected tax revenues contributed to an "excellent" 1997 fiscal year for the City of Hagerstown, Finance Director Al Martin said Tuesday.

The city had a $15,939 general fund surplus for the fiscal year from July 1, 1996, to June 30, 1997, according to the year-end financial report presented to the mayor and City Council on Tuesday afternoon.

The surplus would have been larger, but the council decided earlier this year to transfer $300,000 from the expected surplus to future construction projects, Martin said.


"Snow removal for a change was $52,000 under budget," Martin said. The city spent only $141,026 to salt roads and remove snow during the last fiscal year.

The city spent $671,074 on snow removal during fiscal year 1996, $533,278 more than expected.

Also helping revenues was $889,589 more than anticipated in general property taxes, Martin said. That includes revenue collected from a property tax sale held eight months early and a large business personal property tax payment made late, he said.

The City Light Department's fund saw an increase of only $169,209 last fiscal year because of a rate decrease in October 1996 and because the former 1st Urban Fiber paper recycling plant didn't buy as much power as expected, Martin said.

The recycling plant shut down temporarily in April and closed indefinitely in August because of bad market conditions. The plant opened in October 1996 to produce dried pulp from waste paper that would be used to make writing paper and other products.

City officials had expected City Light to make $2.7 million more last fiscal year with most of that coming from a 20-year power contract with the recycling plant, Martin said.

Warmer winter weather also hurt electric heat sales.

1st Urban's shut down will have a greater effect on the current fiscal year than the one that just ended, Martin said.

City Light sales are expected to drop $4 million this fiscal year because of the shut down, Martin said. The city won't lose $4 million because the city won't buy the power the plant would have used, he said.

Plant officials have made all payments under the power contract as well as for an electrical substation the city built for the plant, Martin said. Under the power contract the plant must pay the city at least $70,000 a year.

The city had an "extremely clean" audit for the last fiscal year, said Art Crumbacker of Albright Crumbacker Harrell & Moul.

The firm also issued a clean audit for the $2.4 million in various federal grants the city received, Crumbacker said.

No major recommendations were issued to the city concerning financial procedures and policies, said Anthony J. Dattilio, a manager with the accounting firm. Dattilio also is a volunteer member of the city's Board of Zoning Appeals.

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