TARPON SPRINGS — Across the board cuts and frugality have left the city in better financial shape than expected, according to the city's latest audit.
The city reported a $2.1 million increase in general operating funds for 2009 and a $2 million increase in enterprise funds, which include sewer, water and other funds. Those increases were $815,000 and $1.6 million, respectively, in 2008.
In addition, Tarpon's reserve fund grew from 5.25 months of cash on hand to 5.8 months.
"The city remains in sound financial condition," said Peter Schatzel of Wells, Houser and Schatzel, the St. Petersburg firm that conducted the audit. "With the downward spiral in ad valorem tax revenue, some cities were not able to cut as much as Tarpon Springs. They are more financially sound than most cities."
The 2009 fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
Last year, City Manager Mark LeCouris asked department heads to find additional savings by eliminating vacant positions, and reducing office supply needs and travel.
Tarpon also unexpectedly received more revenue than budgeted from areas such as franchise fees and utility taxes.
"We were cutting things and we put a halt to spending on anything that wasn't absolutely necessary," said Arie Walker, the city's finance director.
According to the audit, the $20 million general fund had $1.36 million left over after expenses. That fund, which pays for city services such as fire, police and roads, took in slightly more than in 2008 — $8,000. General fund expenditures were $2.65 million below budget.
The city's water and sewer fund had an increase in net assets of $1.59 million in 2009 compared to a $897,000 increase in 2008.
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4174