Murfreesboro's annual budget got a clean bill of health Thursday from independent auditors with Jobe Hastings and Associates.
The comprehensive annual report for fiscal year ending June 2010 highlighted the city's effort to tighten its belt in tough economic times.
The report praised the city for bringing expenditures down despite lower than expected revenues as the economy sputtered in recession.
"The general fund at the end of the year had $39 million," Jobe Hastings Partner Jimmy Jobe told the council. "That equates to 74 percent of the annual budget. That tells you how prepared the city is for economic downturns like the one we just experienced."
The report expressed a "clean opinion" of not only the city's financials, but government as a whole. It was also the 12th consecutive year the city's audit received a certificate for achievement and excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Assocaition in Chicago.
"Department heads clearly got the message when the economy took a down turn. We did tighten our belts. We did slam on the brakes because that did bring our expenditures down below budget," City Manager Rob Lyons said.
The report showed city total assets of $1.3 billion with net assets of $886 million. Education was one of the largest expenditures at $55.9 million with nearly $50 million of that as grants from the state and mostly the federal Department of Education.
Overall, city expenditures came $1.3 million under revenues even though revenues were below expectation by $950,000.
"Obviously major road projects, publicly safety and transportation were handled that year," Mayor Tommy Bragg noted. "We kicked off the Chamber of Commerce new visitor center. Middle Tennessee Medical Center completed their projects. There was a lot of commercial and retail activity on the square. The University continues to grow and we'll be working on a new road project there. We've had quite a year."
Councilman Shane McFarland wanted to make sure the public didn't view the general fund as money that was laying around unspent.
"That doesn't mean that's cash that's on hand," McFarland said. "Some of that is restricted and some is not. That's the one point we look at each year."
Vice Mayor Chris Bratcher and Councilwoman Madelyn Scales Harris were pleased by the report.
"I think we do exactly what we expect people do in our community that does the same thing. When revenues fall short, they cut back on expenditures. As Mr. Jobe said we have seven months of funds in case something was to happen. I think that's a good safety net," Bratcher said.
"I think we have an excellent report before us," Harris said. "We are being provided with some excellent services. We have cut some things and we need to find the money to reward those who have provided us those services."
The council also approved a change order to accept a proposal charging a pool contractor for delays in opening of the SportsCom pool. Councilmembers expressed concerns of setting precedent by allowing contractors to avoid consequences of delays.
"I've gone over this in my mind for several days back and forth that we as the city knew what a tight time line we were putting on them to get this project done, but at the same time when the contractor accepted the contract they were well aware of what the penalties were," Councilman Toby Gilley said.
Parks and Recreation Director Lanny Goodwin said the $2,000 a day penalty was derived from known daily revenues that would be lost in delay, but reported record attendance and revenues once the pool opened
"If you look at the success of the pool in July and August, we increased our participation by 79 percent, and revenues almost 129 percent. In the month of July we made as much as we did the entire season back to July 2009."