Biloxi Releases Latest Audit, and It's 'Clean'

From:   City of Biloxi   7/6/18   GCN

The city published its annual audit earlier this week, and, as expected, it's page after page of tables of numbers, and explanations that may leave Joe Taxpayer in a daze.

However, says Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard, the 152-page document, known as a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the City of Biloxi, has several key takeaways among the detailed financial information about city operations:

> It's a "clean audit," meaning no outstanding regulatory deficiencies were found.

> Revenues, including sales tax, property tax, gaming tax and all other sources were steady though slightly below budget for the period, Leonard said.

> The city reduced long-term debt by $28 million during the Fiscal Year ending Sept. 30, 2017. The city's outstanding long-term general obligation debt, which is debt backed by taxpayers, stands at $46.4 million, or about half of the city's borrowing capacity.

> The $60 million city operating budget ended the fiscal year with revenues and expenses essentially balanced. Revenues were down from the city's projections, but were slightly above last year's figures. At the same time, the city also reduced expenses to end the fiscal year with a balanced budget.

> The financial condition of the city's two enterprise funds -- the water-sewer fund and port fund -- both improved during the year. Utility rates remain among the lowest in the state.

The CAFR (pronounced "caff-ra") "is a detailed snapshot of the city's financial condition at a certain point in time, in this case Sept. 30, 2017," said Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich. "Two of the tools we use in managing public dollars are the municipal budget and the CAFR. The budget is a plan for the fiscal year, showing where funds are to be allocated, and the CAFR shows what actually happened during that year, plus it provides a look at trends in different sectors of the city economy.

The document was prepared by Piltz, Williams & LaRosa, certified public accountants. It is shared with credit-rating agencies, regulators and those interested in a detailed financial analysis of the city. It includes a section that traces the city's revenue sources and departmental spending over the past 10 years.

Perhaps the most important part of the CAFR is its overview, known as a Letter of Transmittal. This 11-page highlight shows trends in key municipal economic indicators: revenue from sales, gaming and property taxes; building permits and their valuations.

Said Gilich in an introductory letter, after outlining a host of key economic indicators and initiatives: "From my vantage point, the city's economic future continues to be very bright."

See the executive summary, known as the Letter of Transmittal
See the CAFR for FY 2017
See CAFRs through the years