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Audits offer look at city’s debt, revenue, expenditures

Audits of the financial position of the City of Marion released by Banks, Finley, and White, which cover the years of 2018, 2019, and 2020, are the first extensive audits of the city’s finances in two decades.

The audits are wideranging, and represent the first time citizens of Marion, not to mention its Mayor and City Council, have had something approaching a full picture of the city’s finances, including an enumeration of the city’s long-term debt. The 2020 audit, the most recent, notes a loan in the amount of $511,838 executed with Marion Bank and Trust Co. (now Marion Community Bank) in March of 2017. The purpose of that loan was to consolidate two previous loans the city had taken out with the bank, one from September 2015 with a balance of $96,897 and one from January 2014 with a balance of $414,690. That loan matured in March of 2021, and the city has since renewed it.

The audit also mentions a loan that had an outstanding balance of $13,308 as of Sept. 30, 2020 that the city used to finance the purchase of a fire truck. The total purchase amount was $39,657.

Two more loans for the purchase of vehicles, these from 2012 and taken out with West Alabama Bank, also appeared on the audit. The full amount was $68,370, and at the time of the audit the balance was $23,264.

The audit also noted, as a further long-term obligation, the city’s net employee pension liabilities as of Sept. 30, 2020 at $1,910,212.

Outstanding Water Accounts Unclear

The auditors, in their report, say they were “unable to confirm” $807,104 in accounts receivable to the city from sewer, water, and garbage pickup service. The auditors also say they were “unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence about customer accounts receivable by other auditing procedures.”

Revenues and Expenses

The audit states that the city received $547,506 in “charges for services” in 2020, down from over $687k the year before. It also reportedly collected $848,764 in sales taxes, $86,302 in property taxes, and $330,493 in other taxes for the year. It also saw $992,353 in income from business-type activities like water and sewer service. The city posted total revenues of $2,860,219 for 2020.

Meanwhile, the city recorded $676,598 in general government expenditures for the year, $1,541,412 in public works expenditures, and $703,519 for public safety. It recorded $844,201 in expenditures for business-type activities. The audit reports $3,939,622 in total expenditures for 2020.