By NATHAN GREGORY
According to an audit conducted by accounting firm Watkins, Ward and Stafford in conjunction with Starkville officials, total net assets for the city’s 2011 fiscal year increased $649,069, or 1.43 percent, from the 2010 fiscal year.
The city had $66,219,418 in total revenues and $65,570,349 in total expenses. Tax revenues accounted for $10,209,165, or 15.42 percent of total revenues. Out of tax revenue, general property taxes accounted for $4,057,448, while general sales taxes from the state accounted for 5,507.531.
The city’s general fund, which is comprised of property taxes, had $15,963,683 in revenues and $14,993,263 in expenditures. The general fund’s balance increased $483,605 from the previous fiscal year.
The city also received a total of $958,653 in federal awards, including $298,547 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, $331,867 from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $147,364 from the U.S. Department of Energy.
WWS performed procedures in its audit to test compliance with state laws and regulations, but would not provide an opinion on whether the city is in compliance, citing that a formation of opinion was not an objective of the audit. The firm did find the results of those procedures and the audit of the general purpose financial statements disclosed no instances of non-compliance with state laws. The auditors’ report expresses what the firm called an “unqualified opinion” on the financial statements. The city was determined to be a “low-risk” auditee.
No material weaknesses were found in the city’s financial internal controls. The report defined material weaknesses as deficiencies such that there is reason to believe noncompliance will not be prevented or detected.
Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said while the auditor’s report doesn’t explain every transaction, it takes a random sample of transactions at a given time and applies that to the remainder of the fiscal period.
“The audit doesn’t say (the balance) is correct, (nor does it) explain every transaction, but it reflects the financial statements were presented fairly and correctly. (It confirms) the accounting principles and standards used to put the statements together ... reflect the underlying transactions,” she said. “Ultimately, when you get an unqualified opinion from an independent auditor, it means you can materially rely on the information being reported.”
Sistrunk said it was due to the department heads efficient managing of their budgets and the work of the city clerk’s office that the city was able to achieve a clean audit with additional funds.