City of Valley learns of clean audit

Published 6:02 pm Friday, April 26, 2019

VALLEY — The Valley City Council held a work session Thursday evening to review financial data for the first six months of fiscal year 2019. John Boles, an accountant from Himmelwright, Huguley & Boles LLC. Auburn, was there to discuss the city’s latest audit. He gave Mayor Leonard Riley and each member of the council a copy of the audit and commended City Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Snowden for her work in the way of record keeping.

“This is the best audit the city has ever had,” he said. “We’ve given it an unmodified opinion, which is the best opinion that can be given, and it hasn’t always been that way. It’s a good read, if you have the time.”

Boles commended the city for taking take of its obligations through cash flow and not relying on excessive borrowing. “That’s pretty impressive,” he said. “Not many cities can do that. You are reinvesting in the city, and you have it in savings.”

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A potential problem for the future could be the growing number of retirements. Retiring city employees are paid out of the Retirement System of Alabama (RSA). At present, the city has 24 retirees with more on the way. “We won’t have to worry about that unless the stock market goes way down,” Mayor Riley said.

Boles noted that the city has some debt, but not much compared to other cities. “You have only three bonds outstanding,” he said.

“Our debt is not bad at all,” Riley said. “We won’t have any problems borrowing money, but we don’t want to do that unless we have to.”

Boles said that cities both large and small should protect themselves from possible cyber attacks by carrying insurance that covers it. He said that cyber criminals aren’t just after the big cities; they go after the smaller ones, too.

Riley thanked Boles for the positive report. “We are over the hump and heading in the right direction,” he said. “I want to thank Kathy (Snowden) for the good work she does for us. We are staying up to date on bills. Cash flow is the name of the game.”

The mayor said he was well pleased with increases in sales tax collections. The city was up over $200,000 in this in 2018 and is running ahead of that pace in 2019. Increases are being seen in the Internet sales tax, business license fees and rental taxes. The city is on pace to collect $7 million in sales tax this year.

All paving projects have been completed except for some striping and shoulder cleanup. Riley said that $1.5 million in future projects are on his desk but that the city probably wouldn’t be doing as much paving this year as it did in 2018,

There will be a groundbreaking in Valley Industrial Park on May 22 for the new Four Star Freightliner truck sales, repair and maintenance business being built near the Lanier-Carter site and in view of I-85. The new business is on track to open in October.

In a PowerPoint presentation, Mayor Riley showed council members aerial photos of the land clearing that’s been taking place at the 1,200 acres purchased by the city near I-85.

He commended Clay Tucker of Valley Police Department on having done good work in taking the photos via a drone. “They were taken at 3:30 this afternoon, and I’m able to show them to you,” Riley said.

The portion of the Burney property facing Fob James Drive has almost been completely cleared up trees and stumps with most of the debris having been burned. Work is now under way in cutting trees on the city-owned land between 55th Street and I-85. The mayor showed council members an aerial photo of the Combs property on the south side of the industrial park. He said that it would be an ideal location for a housing subdivision. “There are some beautiful lots on this site,” he said. “It would be a good location for homes the are priced just right, neither too expensive or too low.”

The mayor said that the city’s solid waste provider, Mr. Greenjeans, is seeking a rate increase. He said that it’s probably justified given increased in the price of fuel and tipping fees at the landfill. He said he was inclined to support a $1 per month increase on garbage fees this month and perhaps another $1 increase next year.

Action on this will likely be on the agenda for the Monday, April 29th meeting.