Healthy Reserves: City officials pleased with audit results

Harlingen city limits

HARLINGEN — The city is better off than it was a year ago.

At least that’s according to its annual financial audit.

Last week, certified public accounting firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram presented city commissioners with the audit for fiscal 2017-2018.

“ One of the central concerns in assessing any city’s finances is summarized in the question, “Is the city as a whole better or worse off as a result of the year’s activities?” the auditors stated in the report.

During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the city’s net income increased by $3.4 million to $107,442,199.

“ The city’s net position, which is the difference between assets and liabilities, is one indicator of the City’s financial health or financial position,” the auditors wrote.

Meanwhile, the city’s general fund budget stood at $43.9 million, with expenditures totaling $41.7 million.

At the fiscal year’s close Sept. 30, the city had amassed a cash reserve of $20.7 million, capable of operating the city for about 160 days, auditor Quentin Anderson told commissioners.

“ That’s a good reserve,” he said. “It’s a good fund balance to go with a steady budget. What’s notable is the city has not increased the tax rate in the last 10 years.”

Property tax collections generated most revenue, climbing to $18.5 million from $18.2 million the previous year.

“ Property taxes have grown steadily over the last five years,” Anderson said told commissioners.

Retail sales tax revenue also jumped to $18.9 million, up from $17.6 million the year before.

“ Sales tax has grown substantially,” Anderson said.

Meanwhile, the city’s total long-term debt stood at $94.5 million.

The city’s biggest expenditures went toward public safety, which climbed to $24.4 million from $23.6 million the previous year.

Among the city’s departments, the Tony Butler Municipal Golf Course continued to lose revenue.

During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the golf course posted a net loss of $340,014, the audit shows.

Auditors found the golf course’s revenues fell by $111,095 since the previous year, with operating expenses decreasing by $66,561.

For months, city officials have worked to boost the golf course’s revenues.

Now, a national consulting firm is studying operations to help the course generate more income.

Despite the golf course’s deficit, the city’s other funds continue to generate revenue over last year’s numbers.