The city of Sandy Springs is in strong financial shape, but there are some issues it needs to address, according to its annual audit.
“The first one has to do with the Municipal Court, to keep track of the 55 outstanding court cases (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and they total $77,384,” said accountant Adam Fraley, a partner with Mauldin & Jenkins, the firm hired by the city to conduct its annual audit.
According to the audit report, the cases range from more than a year old to 13 years old.
That was the first of four recommendations for improvement Fraley and the firm made during an audit presentation at the Sandy Springs City Council’s Jan. 5 meeting, which was held virtually due to the outbreak.
The second regards the city’s tree fund, which was established by the council and is used to replace Sandy Springs’ tree canopy/canopy preservation amounts.
“We noted this portion of the city’s code was established several years ago and needs to be updated to bring the reporting of this fund into compliance with Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 54, which defines the requirements of special revenue funds,” the audit report stated. “We are merely recommending that the city update the wording to comply with the accounting standard so that the fund is reported in accordance with GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles).”
The third recommendation is “$250,000 in deposits with CDs or a CD that was not classified properly. Those deposits could be at risk,” Fraley said. The audit report stated the deposits must be “properly collateralized at 110% in accordance with the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) Section 45‐8‐12(c).”
Finally, Mauldin & Jenkins also recommended the city adopt and operate a separate balanced budget for each of the federal grants special revenue funds it established beginning with fiscal 2020, in order to comply with state law.
Fraley also broke down how the city’s both obtains and spends its funds.
“Regarding the general fund revenue sources for 2020, taxes take up 91% of the city’s revenue,” he said. “Public safety takes up 48% of the city’s spending, the largest amount of all departments.”
According to the audit report, in the previous five fiscal years, the city’s expenditures have mostly been even with its revenues during the first three years before expenditures dropped while revenues increased slightly in the last two.
In 2016, revenues slightly outpaced expenses, with both coming in at about $92 million. The following year, revenues remained about the same and expenditures rose to about $95 million. In 2018, the two figures were nearly even at about $100 million each.
The following year, expenses dropped to about $78 million but revenues rose slightly to about $100 million. In 2020, expenses decreased a bit to about $70 million but revenues increased to about $102 million.
Mayor Rusty Paul suggested the city get more than just a standard audit once every three to five years, even if it costs extra.
“I think it would be worthwhile to take a look and make sure we’re not just getting the basics – maybe not every year, but every few years,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re getting all the info for the council to make the right decisions on the city’s finances.”