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City’s new fiscal year off to sluggish start

It is already October, but the Cairo City Council got its first look at the financial report for July, which was the first month of the new fiscal year, and city fathers say they are monitoring finances closely.
Finance Director Miriam Faircloth presented the July financial statement to the council finance committee Monday. The report was delayed until work could be completed to close the books for fiscal year 2011-2012, which ended June 30.
The first report of the new fiscal year showed lower than normal revenues for water and sewer compared to the last few years. City officials say rain was more plentiful and less irrigation by homeowners resulted in lower water sales.
Water revenues for the month were only $98,452.71 compared to $116,586.98 in July 2011; $105,498.92 in July 2010; and $104,083.37 in July 2009.
According to city officials, July was not as hot as July 2011, which resulted in lower electricity sales. The July 2012 total was $1,483,736.97 compared to $1,601,376.24 last year and $1,526,307.40 in July 2010.
Council Finance Committee Chairman and Mayor Pro Tem James H. (Jimmy) Douglas said the gas report was “really bad.”
The gas department showed a loss of $95,180.79 for the month, but Finance Director Faircloth pointed out that approximately $75,000 of that total was one-time expenses related to the construction of the new fire training facility on the campus of the Cairo Fire Department.
Douglas and the other members of the committee, along with City Manager Chris Addleton and Finance Director Faircloth, were perplexed by a steep drop in cable revenue for CNS Cable in July.
The city closed out the last fiscal year in June with monthly revenue of $234,441.62, but the July figures dropped to $221,229.32, which was a lower monthly total for all but two months in all of fiscal year 2011-2012.
“That’s a drop of over $13,000 in one month,” Douglas said.
Mayor Richard VanLandingham, a member of the finance committee, noted similar drops between June and July of the last three previous fiscal years.
Finance Director Faircloth said she cannot explain the drop and she reported the figures come straight from the utility billing software.
City Manager Addleton also said he cannot explain the variance, so Mayor VanLandingham suggested the committee invite utility department personnel to meet with the committee to explain it.
Mrs. Faircloth said she would run a report for the individual accounts with the CNS fund to see if any particular account stands out. “If it is across the board, it will not show anything,” she said.
Landfill revenues also dropped from $81,093.77 in June to $67,118.95 in July.
On a positive note, the city saw an increase in revenue from garbage and trash revenue, but City Manager Addleton pointed out the increase was the result of a rate increase that went into effect July 1. The July total was $97,349.55 compared to $93,619.94 in June and $94,977.06 in July 2011.
“It’s not a bad start, but we definitely have done better in the past,” Addleton commented.
However, Douglas said an approximately $200,000 drop in electric sales in one of the traditionally best months for electric sales is cause for concern. Addleton predicted the revenues would balance out with stronger sales in August and September.
“We just need to continue to monitor the situation,” Douglas told the city council Monday night as he recommended approval of the financial statement for July.
In related action Monday night, the council also approved budget amendments totaling $66,906.37 to close out the books on fiscal year 2011-2012. The revisions to the budget were necessary due to additional expenses related to the 20th Street N.E. and Teresa Edwards Street infrastructure improvement projects, as well as the Davis Park project.

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