Lanett receives positive audit report

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, August 23, 2023

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LANETT — The City of Lanett received a good audit from its latest reporting period. CPA Phillip Morgan of Phillip Morgan & Company in Birmingham reviewed it at the Monday meeting of the city council.

The audit for fiscal year 2021-22 concludes with a clear opinion, no new findings or non-compliance. “Overall, it’s a very good audit,” Morgan told the council. “The city ended the year with positive balances, and revenues are going upward.”

FY 2021-22 ended with $8.3 million in assets. 

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“That was up from the previous year, indicating an improving financial condition for the city,” Morgan said.

Revenues from the electrical department went from $10.5 million on the previous year to $11.2 million. Sales and property taxes were higher than expected. Expenses were slightly more than $18 million with revenues coming in at $21.4 million. The city paid down more than $700,000 on its debt of around $16 million. 

The city ended FY 2021-22 with a general fund balance of $2.7 million. During the year, the city still had some Covid-19 relief money plus federal CDBG and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grants.

Mayor Jamie Heard missed the meeting due to illness. Mayor Pro Tem Angelia Thomas filled in for him and was pleased with the audit report. She asked Morgan what impact losing revenue from the police jurisdiction would have on the city. Morgan said it was too early to tell.

In action taken at the Monday meeting, the council approved a tax abatement for Hester Tag & Label, Inc., which is located on Veterans Memorial Parkway. The company is planning to make a capital investment of more than $1 million in an expansion of its existing manufacturing capacity.

Ansley Emfinger of the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA) staff told the council that Hester Tag & Label was founded in 1991 and had located in Lanett in 1997. “They are planning to purchase a new printing press,” she said. “They will be adding three more jobs.”

The council approved a tax abatement request for a ten-year period. It exempts them from state and local non-educational property taxes.

The council approved a resolution to increase the rates charged for industries on the city’s sewer system. The rate will be going up to $5 per 1,000 gallons. The new rates will become effective with the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. The increase was approved to cover increasing wholesale costs of providing sewer service.

In a 4-1 vote, the city renewed a $500,000 line of credit with AuburnBank. This is done in case the city needs to do some emergency borrowing. City Clerk/Treasurer Deborah Gilbert said she could remember only one occasion she’s been with the city when the city actually borrowed money from a line of credit.

Fire & EMS Chief Johnny Allen told the council that it would be a good idea to renew this line of credit, given the way interest rates have been going up over the past year. Any borrowing off of it, he said, would have to be approved in a vote of the council.

Council Member Tony Malone was opposed.

The council unanimously approved a resolution to adopt a transportation plan that’s required under the Rebuild Alabama Act. The city will be getting an estimated $57,000 next year from the state through Rebuild Alabama. The money will be used for repaving the portion of South 15th Street that runs past the Lanett High baseball field.

The council declared a host of items being stored in the Lanett Athletic Hall as surplus. Almost all of the items are rated in poor or fair condition. Included are some broken chairs and tables, obsolete computers and printers, some radios that don’t work, some rusted old paint cans and the like. The only items listed in good condition saw horses and some signs for the Lanett Film Festival.

Thomas asked City Inspector Johnny Wood if any of the items could be sold. Wood said anything declared surplus can be sold, but he seriously doubted there would be much interest in purchasing almost everything on the list.

On another subject, Wood told the council that some progress had been made in getting rid of high weeds in the city. At a recent meeting, the council had acted on weed liens on 19 separate properties. Since that time, nine different property owners had taken action to clean up their lots. On Monday, the council supported Wood’s advice and imposed liens on the ten properties where no action had been taken to clean up the lots.

Thomas thanked the city’s electrical department for the job they do in keeping the power flowing in the city during the hot days of summer and on stormy days. She also thanked the grass cutting crews for the work they do in keeping the roadsides looking good. 

“I know there have been times where you may have felt I was giving you a hard time,” she said, “but it’s important for us to have a city that looks good.”