City auditor cautions council to watch spending

·4 min read

COSHOCTON — With the general fund carryover for the City of Coshocton falling below $1 million for 2022, City Auditor Sherry Kirkpatrick cautioned council to watch spending in the coming year.

Sherry Kirkpatrick
Sherry Kirkpatrick

The carryover was approximately $872,000. This is down from $1.48 million going into 2019, but significantly better than the Great Recession years where the city finished 2014 in the red by $22,308.

While $872,000 might seem like a lot of money, it can quickly be used in an emergency situation, and the financial impact of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic is still a day-to-day question mark.

Kirkpatrick said the general fund was helped by two items she didn't budget for at the beginning of the year, as she wasn't sure how they would come in. This was $180,000 in home health money and $162,000 to the city health department related to COVID-19 expenses.

Kirkpatrick said she always tries to be conservative with her estimates on revenue and expenses, and looks for savings where she can. For example, she saved the city's general fund $150,000 toward the end of the year relating to the contract with the Coshocton County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services by taking available funding from the safety security and law enforcement fund. Money there comes from a voter approved levy with a majority of dollars already going to the sheriff's office contract.

And while numbers can fluctuate throughout the year, Kirkpatrick said the current filing with the county budget commission only shows a $60,000 difference between revenue and expenses.

"It's starting to become a little concerning for me," she said. "We're just going to have to keep a really tight eye on our general fund. That money will go quickly."

The income tax department reported business collections down 23.13% for 2021 with more than $73,000 in back taxes owed. Kirkpatrick said some of that are businesses who filed on the state level and that money has been delayed flowing back to the local level. Overall, city income tax revenue was up .79% from the previous year with slight increases in individual returns and payroll withholdings.

"Individual filings were down, but payroll withholdings were up and that's obviously good, because that means jobs," she said.

In other council notes:

• Amy Shutt was named clerk of council. She's also the administrative assistant to the special education director of Coshocton City Schools and was previously an administrative assistance for the city law director's office. She replaces Cherry Wilson, who is off due to an extended illness. Councilman Roger Moore has been acting as interim clerk. Wilson will remain the administrative assistant to the mayor's office if she's able to return to work.

• It was mentioned that council meeting minutes have not been posted on the city's website since October. This was related to the former clerk being out. The minutes do exist and should be posted online upcoming.

• Council had second readings of legislation regarding keeping farm animals in city limits and the long-term parking of campers and recreational vehicles. Both are slated for a vote on passage at the next regular meeting on Jan. 24. Council members said they haven't received any public input regarding either.

• Council discussed parking of vehicles in the tree lawn. City ordinance reads one can't park if there isn't a curb, but some park in places where there aren't curbs into the tree lawn. Council instructed Property Code Inspector Jeff Corder to continue to enforce the law as written as they consider further. Talked about was mandating parking only on one side of certain streets or making exceptions for those who have gravel parking spots in front of homes.

• The city hopes to wrap up leaf collection this week. Collection was stalled due to repairs needed on the collection truck in the fall.

• The project to replace waterlines on Eight and Ninth streets is set to start the last week of January. The city is also working on replacing fire hydrants.

• Sheriff James Crawford requested for the end of Third Street to be abandoned to accommodate how the architect wants to situate the administrative building on the property related to the new Coshocton Justice Center project. A survey is needed to determine exactly what section will be vacated and a public hearing on the vacation is required. This needs to be decided before construction starts, Crawford said. The building is being moved about 56 feet from where originally planned.

llhayhur@coshoctontribune.com

@llhayhurst

740-295-3417

This article originally appeared on Coshocton Tribune: City auditor cautions council to watch spending

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