21 December 2018

[MB McCart] - The $$$ of the #COV: City of Covington Financials, 1st Report


City of Covington, GA, USA

The City of Covington, GA, with approx 15,000 residents, is a self-described "full service city" that has multiple revenue streams & expenditures while providing electricity, gas, water, sanitation services, along with the traditional roles of police protection, public works & municipal court, amongst others. It's been thought by many over the years that the city's spending is too high & not efficient enough. Those will be questions for a future time. For now, in this first report, we're just going to be looking at the basics. So here we go... 

For fiscal year (FY) 2017 the city had a total of $11.9 million in regular revenues vs. expenditures of approx. $23.1 million. So, technically a deficit of over $11 million! But that's not the full story. Remember that we are a "full service city" & that there are revenues coming in from those other streams. So for FY 2017, over $10 million was transferred from the city's utilities' funds which meant that the city ended up with an actual budget deficit of right at $1 million. 

For the current budget, the revenue for the regular, "General Fund" budget is set to increase to $14 million, so a pretty substantial increase there (right at $2 million). But you have to remember that an amount likely in excess of $11 million will be transferred from other funds, namely electric & gas, that will bump the total revenue amount to approx. $26 million. So, for those keeping score, an approx. $3 million dollar increase corresponding to a 13% growth of government. That seems extremely high...

And this is where things can get a little complicated. A lot of times one is dealing with apples & oranges comparisons & you have to do some figuring & computing to try to get things truly figured out. And while the public "Financial Report" shows an expenditure number of around $23 million, you might see another number that maybe has all the payroll expenses of all revenue streams (utilities included) that will be much higher. 



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Or, you may see the full, total figure of everything that will show you this for revenues & expenditures:

FY 2018:

REVENUES: $132,046,207

EXPENDITURES: $131,632,850

OMG, some folks might be saying. Or maybe - WTH?

Well, remember, this is the full, big, "everything" number. This is including all revenues & expenses from electricity, gas, water & a few other revenue streams. But, it doesn't change the fact that Covington, a city with 14,000 residents (per latest official census numbers) has a overall budget more than twice as big as Newton County's with over 100,000 residents. So, we are talking BIG money here.

Let's delve into just a few specific numbers:

- Total salaries, wages & benefits paid for all Covington employees in 2017/2018: $31.14 million 
     - that's an increase of right at $2 million over the previous year
     - or a growth rate of almost 7%

- Various revenue streams from the latest available data:

     - Property Taxes: $4.9 million

     - Share of Sales Tax: $2 million

     - Licenses & Permits (including occupational tax): $243,283

     - Fines & Forfeitures: $441,643


What would really be interesting is seeing the numbers in the Stormwater Utility enterprise fund. That's coming.

And getting into the numbers of the utilities. Also coming.

Thanks for reading. Until next time. 

MB McCart

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