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Alachua issued clean financial audit

ALACHUA – The City of Alachua has reason to celebrate after recently receiving a glowing audit report for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, 2011.

Alachua achieved unqualified opinions on basic financial statements, federal awards and state project sections, which is the highest rating a city can receive. All comments or concerns from prior years had been addressed, including an issue that could have placed the city in a financial emergency several years ago.

Ron Whitesides of Purvis Gray & Company informed commissioners that a previous $1.7 million deficit in restricted funds had been converted into a $3.6 million excess. While residents faced rate increases, the city managed to turn around all the deteriorating conditions, and Whitesides presented a clean audit to the commission.

“It’s night and day from where we were in 2009,” Commissioner Ben Boukari said.

The 2008-2009 fiscal year audit report, which was presented in early 2010 revealed an unreserved fund balance deficit of $1,720,770 as reported on the governmental funds balance sheet, and unrestricted net assets deficit of $310,782, as reported on the proprietary funds statement of net assets.

Shortly after the auditor’s assessment in 2010, Alachua City Manager Traci Cain met with staff, a meeting which resulted in $1.2 million in cuts from the city’s annual budget. The city raised utility rates, resolved a problem with the utility billing software and implemented a hiring freeze. Due primarily to those actions, the city saw improvements within one fiscal year.

In 2011, at the 2009-2010 audit presentation, the city was in better financial shape as Whitesides reported that the city had reduced its deficit from $1.7 million to $15,771.

After hearing the good news this year resulting from the most recent audit report, the commission thanked Cain and her staff for their hard work.

“I am so proud of the finance department, our management team and the entire staff,” said Cain. “They have worked really hard, especially during these challenging economic times to be creative, to be resourceful, to be diligent and everything that we’ve done to ensure the citizens of Alachua have the infrastructure and the services that they’ve needed to maintain the quality of life that they’re used to and that’s attracted so many people to call the Good Life Community home.”