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Crocker city auditor warns: 'The bleeding has to cease'
Crocker city auditor warns: 'The bleeding has to cease'

Crocker city auditor Marshall Decker says Crocker's financial condition must be addressed soon.
CROCKER, Mo. (Jan. 12, 2009) — Although they’re faced with major budget problems, members of the Crocker City Council decided Monday night not to lay off any city employees — at least for now.

However, the city’s auditor, Marshall Decker, warned that Crocker must do something to balance its budget.

“This is not good news; there’s no other way to put it. The bleeding has to cease,” Decker said.

Decker noted that his printed audit report showed that Crocker spent $24,295 more than it received for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, dropping the cash-on-hand fund balance from $54,157 at the end of June 2007 to $29,862 at the end of June 2008.

Even including non-cash assets and restricted funds, the city’s finances have problems.

Crocker’s water, sewer and trash pickup had expenses of $431,583 but received only $421,382 in charges for services, $4,967 in operating grants and contributions, and $4,206 from interest on investments. For general governmental activities such as city staff, police and fire protection, streets, parks and interest on long-term debt, the city spent $460,730 but received only $75,059 from charges for services, $15,564 from capital grants and contributions, and $354,415 in general revenue, most of which is tax money.

The result is that the city’s general revenue fund dropped from a balance of $354,415 at the end of June 2007 to a balance of $333,099 at the end of June 2008, while the restricted funds for water, sewer and trash dropped from a balance of $1.49 million to a balance of $1.47 million during the same period.

“It doesn’t take much to understand that you’ve run out of time on that,” Decker said. “When you look at all the line items to try to bring it back into balance so what goes out the door matches what’s coming in the door, the reason I call this a significant deficiency is in the budget planning you were planning to overspend, and then two, we have this pattern of the funds decreasing.”

Decker said the city had taken steps to reduce its insurance costs and had somewhat reduced the annual loss in its water and sewer fund, but more steps need to be taken.

“It’s got to stop,” Decker said. “That fund is in violation of state statutes; you can’t spend more than you bring in.”

Decker reminded the aldermen that due to the terms of their sewer bond, they can’t use the water and sewer funds to supplement deficits in other departments.

“It gets a little sticky trying to make what’s coming in match what’s going out,” Decker said.

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