Derry Chief Financial Officer Frank Childs and Controller Janice Mobsby gave highlights of the Town’s quarterly financial picture. Mobsby first presented what she called the “big numbers” at the May 21 Town Council meeting.
General fund cash is at $41 million, down $400,000 from 2012, Mobsby said. She said the change was due to using bond proceeds last year to pay for road improvements in the Route 28 TIF (Tax Increment Finance) district.
Unpaid current year taxes have increased by $35,000, to $1.8 million, she said, adding, “We are doing a better job of collecting.” Unpaid tax liens have increased $290,000 to $1.3 million, Mobsby said. While part of the increase ($42,000) is due to the change in reporting of elderly liens, most is due to greater values being “liened,” she wrote in a memo. And people are working on payment plans, she said.
Investment in capital assets exceeded annual depreciation during the past 12 months in the following categories: Land and Improvements, $826,000; Roadways, $295,000; Tax-deeded property held for resale, $231,000; Vehicles, $112,000; and Construction in Progress, $1,586,000.
Assets that did not keep pace with depreciation include Buildings and Improvements, $295,000; Machinery and Equipment, $10,000; and Bridges and Sidewalks, $141,000.
“With the life of our bridges, I don’t expect that to change,” Mobsby said of the latter.
The fund balance is $135.3 million, “mostly investment in capital assets,” Mobsby said.
She added, “Now here’s the number you’ve all been waiting to hear.” The Unassigned Fund Balance is $13 million, a $2.4 million increase over last year. The increase is mostly due to the result of grant reimbursement for bridge projects, she said.
Childs reported on the “Revenues and Expenditures” section. Two departments have seen a significant drop in revenue, the Ambulance and the Transfer Station.
Ambulance revenues may be down as much as $150,000, he said. Much of this is due to the recertification process, he said, adding, “But whether it’s ‘delay by design’ or because of so many being recertified, who knows?” He said Mobsby is working with Fire Chief George Klauber to determine how to get the revenues back up.
“The amount of business hasn’t changed,” Childs said. “What’s changed is the ‘paying mix.’”
The Transfer Station revenues are suffering from a softness in the market, he said.
The selling price for recyclable materials is down by as much as $90,000. People are selling their surplus scrap metal on their own instead of bringing it in to the Transfer Station for the town to sell, he added.
Chairman Michael Fairbanks asked Childs, “Is that trend on recyclables a concern for our zero percent tax increase? Will it improve with the new facility?”
“Time will tell,” Childs said.
With the new transfer station, more materials will be able to be recycled, he said. The income from recyclables always fluctuates, he added: “Some years we have a windfall.”
Councilor Brad Benson asked how much Unassigned Fund Balance (UFB) the town could expect to have at the end of the year.
Childs said there was $13 million at the end of March.
Some of the UFB was used to stabilize the 2014 budget, he said, adding, “We expect to have more Unassigned Fund Balance, but whether it’s greater than the amount we used for the 2014 budget remains to be seen.”
Later in the meeting, resident Kelly Martin asked if the UFB could be used to reduce taxes.
Town Administrator John Anderson clarified that if it was used for operating funds, that would create a “double hole” next year due to the town’s tax cap. What the town did, he said, was to use it for $55,000 worth of capital items.