Brewer audit reveals good financial news

Posted March 04, 2009, at 8:46 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Finance Director Karen Fussell and an auditor told city councilors on Tuesday that the city is in a good financial position and that a recent audit shows positive financial news.

The audit, completed by South Portland accounting firm Runyon, Kersteen and Ouellette “is a strong indicator of the city’s financial heath and our ability to better weather the ups and downs of the economy,” City Manager Steve Bost said on Wednesday.

The general fund’s cash and investments balance increased by approximately $1.2 million, and now hovers around $6.86 million, the audit documents state.

“We finished the fiscal year with a net addition of $1,066,799 to our general fund balance,” Fussell states in her March memo to councilors. “Both the city and school had higher revenues and lower expenditures than budgeted.”

In addition, the undesignated fund balance, “a key indicator of the overall fiscal health of the city,” increased by $586,348 over the last year, and now is approximately $4.58 million, Fussell stated.

“It’s a very good audit,” Bost said.

In addition to a favorable rating when borrowing money or bonds, the audit also “allow us to look at the budget, and know we’re not going to go through the peaks and valleys” other communities may face in this slumping economy, Bost said. “The financial framework of the city is very solid.”

Bost gave accolades to Fussell, who take a conservative approach to the budget and budget projections, and other department heads for their work to keep budgets tight.

During Tuesday’s meeting, city councilors also:

— Recognized the contributions of Wayne Libhart Sr., who served as city solicitor between 1972 and 1980. Libhart died Feb. 17.

— Approved a liquor license for Tracy Marceron, owner of Between Friends, located at 39 Center St., which allows the serving of beer and wine.

— Approved a Rapid Renewal Program that allows residents to reregister their vehicles at the tax office.

— Accepted the resignations of Ron Harriman from the Board of Assessment Review and Gary Briggs from the Planning Board, and appointed Frank Gallant and Lucie Estabrook to the Board of Assessment Review, and Joseph Hayes, Marc Inman and Craig Saunders to the Planning Board. Beverly Uhlenhake and Daryl Briggs were appointed as associate members to the Planning Board.

— Amended a previous order to pay tax abatements to the Ellen M. Leach Memorial Home by adding an additional $14,402 to the total refund for fiscal year 2005-06.

— Tabled proposed changes to the land use code to deal with methadone and other narcotic treatment facilities. A public hearing on the proposed changes, scheduled for Monday, was postponed until March 16. Councilors are expected to take up the issue again after that hearing.

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