Situation forces budget adjustment

Despite recent reports that the City of Bastrop’s audit revealed the sewer fund was over budget, Mayor Betty Alford-Olive said no money is missing, only “over budgeted when it was prepared at the beginning of the year.”

Alford-Olive said the audit, which was conducted by Hill, Inzina and Co., showed the sewer fund over budget because of grants they anticipated to help construct a sewer lagoon for DG Foods, the $9.7 million chicken processing plant that opened in August.

According to the independent audit conducted by the Bastrop firm, the city’s sewer use fee fund’s actual revenue of $2.1 million, failed to meet the actual budgeted revenues of $3.4 million, totaling $1.3 million less than originally budgeted. The city’s fiscal year ran from July1 to June 30.

Mayor Betty Alford-Olive admitted the audit appeared off balance “to the lay person’s eye,” but “an auditor could read it accurately and be able to tell that everything is in order.”

City Clerk Sandra Goleman said the problem derived when making out last year’s budget, with a projected grant expected from a “third source,” but never received.

“When we got ready to do the budget last year, we anticipated receiving federal and state money,” Goleman said. “We had a third source that was also willing to provide money. We had enough money to fund it ourselves, but we wanted to save the city money when another source was willing to pay.”

Goleman said later they discovered that although the third source was offering this funding, the city would be responsible for paying it back.

“When we budgeted, we were under the impression that we were getting a grant from the third source,” Goleman said. “The numbers we put on the budget weren’t accurate at the end of the fiscal year because we never got the grant from the third source.”

The audit states that the majority of the unfavorable variance resulted from intergovernmental revenues being over budgeted in the sewer use fee fund.

One expenditure that resulted was sewer infrastructure improvements needed to to accommodate

In keeping with their agreement to accommodate the company upon coming to Bastrop, the city had to provide the construction of a lagoon for the company to use as a waste pond. Alford-Olive said the lagoon was completed last month. While waiting for the lagoon’s completion, DC Foods had a temporary waste pond they were using.

Alford-Olive said the “city has fared well during tough economic times, especially as it works to increase revenue after losing its major employer, International Paper, four years ago,” she said. “The city has fared well through these difficult times, and we will continue to persevere.”