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  • Writer's pictureStephen Postier

2023 York City Audit

This last week I received a copy of the audit for the City of York. For those that don't know, an audit is essentially a review/report of the financials completed by a third party. This was completed for the previous budget year, which ran October 1st, 2021 through September 30, 2022. AMGL CPAs & Advisors was the entity that completed ours for this year. They also provided some summary data and analysis about how York has done/is doing.

The council members had the opportunity to pick up the audit last week, giving us a few days to review this 80ish page document, to be able to ask questions at the council meeting. If anyone is interested, the audit is published on the city's website. I was able to look through this audit, and compare it to previous audits, to see how the city of York has been doing over the last five years.

With this being a governmental entity, rather than a private business, there are some differences in how the finances work, but many of the key ratios do transfer. One of the differences I'm learning is called Fund Accounting. There are essentially funds that are set up with restricted purposes. Money that is put into these funds can only be used for that designated purpose. Some of the funds for the city of York are LB 357 Fund, Debt Service Fund, Street Fund, Capital Projects Fund, General Fund, etc. This year's audit, page 17, has the balance of the major funds for the city. These fund balances are combined with other assets in the city, to give our total assets (Both Governmental and Proprietary, which are the water/waste water/landfill/etc) of almost $135M. Over the last five years, this has grown from $107M. In the same time period, our total liabilities (how much our city owes to others have increased from $48M to $60M. These changes have combined to see our city's Net Worth increase from $59M to $74M over the last five years. Our community has been doing very well.

In addition, these are some comparative numbers provided by our auditors, based on our population of 8,071 in 2022:

- We received $772/person in sales tax, compared to $290/person in our peer group, which is up from $623/person five years ago

- We received $267/person in property tax, compared to $254/person in our peer group. This was prior to the proposal to lower property taxes that the council passed for the 2022/2023 budget year.

- We have about 34% of our government wide assets available as unrestricted (Meaning the city has more leeway to use the funds as needed, to do things like lowering property taxes). This was only at about 21% five years ago.

- Our property tax levy rate was .33, and no additional debt service rate. Our peer group had an average rate of .38, with an additional .07 for debt service.

The council has done a good job working to make sure York is in a financially viable position. We'll be able to continue this during the next budgeting cycle, which will be completed before the end of this current fiscal year (September 30, 2023). We'll utilize the trends in revenues/expenses as reported in our audits, to help determine the needs for the upcoming budget.

As a side note, the city of York has been receiving record sales tax receipts during this current fiscal year. This additional inflow of cash wouldn't be showing up in the 2022 audit, but will be shown as available for next years budgeting process. Based on the way a city's budget cycle operates, the council/mayor approve a certain amount of revenue and expense estimate for the year. The department heads are generally limited by the amount of their approved budget for the year, even if there are record incomes coming in. They are not able to just spend that extra sales tax this year. This extra income from previous years, along with employees coming in under budget, gave the city extra resources to be able to lower property taxes this year.

With this being my first year, I am excited to be part of this next budgeting process, to see what it all entails.

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