City could face shortfall in budgeted revenue

As the city of Cairo’s fiscal year nears the end on June 30, 2012, city officials are not optimistic the city will generate the general fund revenue that was budgeted, which is causing city councilmen to review planned expenditures.
City Council Finance Committee Chairman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas warned Monday that actual revenues could be off by as much as $200,000.
“We’re either going to have to go over budget on transfers from the electric fund or cut out some expenses,” Douglas told members of the finance committee and later the full council.
The finance committee chairman pointed out that the insurance premium tax revenue was going to be down by $50,000, and the city’s total fines and forfeitures is currently off budget by approximately $100,000.
“Do we know how short we are going to be and is there anything else out there we don’t know about?” Mayor Richard VanLandingham asked.
Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton said the largest planned expenditures remaining in this fiscal year are the Davis Park Phase II project and the construction of a new Community Services Department building, but the new construction would spread across this fiscal year and the next.
“If we’re not going to make it up, we need to be prepared how to handle it,” the mayor said.
Chairman Douglas recommended an analysis of projected expenditures.
“We need to go back and look at some of the expenditures. I know there are some capital project funds in there, and I don’t want to take out the Community Services building at this point. We need to project out how short we are going to be on revenue and see where we can cut back to get within the new projected budget,” Douglas said.
A large expense not currently reflected in city financial statements is the jail fee due to Grady County for the housing of city inmates. City of Cairo Finance Director Miriam Faircloth said she recently discovered the city had not been billed by the county for the jail fee since August.
“That is a big expense every month, in the $30,000 per month range,” she said.
“We need to find out how much we owe in jail fees because I guarantee you they will bill us,” Douglas said.
Besides the general fund, the finance committee also discussed lower than projected revenue for the gas, water and sewer funds.
Chairman Douglas encouraged Addleton to review the electric fund revenues and expenses to determine if there will be additional funds available to transfer to the general fund to make up the budget shortfall.
Douglas also questioned the variance in monthly revenue from CNS cable and telephone.
“It is not so much in dollars, but based on the average monthly bill for a CNS subscriber, you’re looking at 60-70 customers difference from one month to the next. You have the same variation in telephone. I wouldn’t think you would have that much difference when it is such a pain to switch service providers.
City Manager Addleton concurred and said the subscriber counts had not varied that much, but he cannot explain the up and down revenue numbers.

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