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Auditor praises Gainesvilles finances
City ends 2011 in the black with $5.1M in reserve
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Gainesville 2011 budget highlights

  • 48 percent of Gainesville's government expenses ($16.2 million) goes to public safety.
  • The city took in a net $12.1 million in nongovernmental activities through charging for services such as water, sewer and trash collection in 2011, compared to $6.3 in 2010.
  • Despite stable tax rates, property tax revenues increased by roughly $715,000, up 13 percent from the previous year.
  • Gainesville's net assets are $407.7 million.


Gainesville City Council received a good report card Thursday on the city's fiscal health.

An independent auditor confirmed the city staff's earlier report that Gainesville would enter the 2012 financial year with reserve funds.

"You've had a good financial year in 2011," said Chris Hollifield, an accountant with Rushton & Company, the firm that audited Gainesville's financial report.

Hollifield delivered a presentation of that report to city council at Thursday's work session meeting.

Council Member George Wangemann noted the city should be particularly proud given the tough economic climate.

Rushton & Company also audits other municipal governments, and Hollifield said Gainesville is comparatively doing better than many.

"Some of our clients have negative fund balances (deficits) and are really struggling with what to do," he said.

The city ends the year in the black, with enough financial reserves to last city about 2 1/2 months, $5.1 million.

While some taxpayers may be concerned the city is making more money than it spends, council members emphasized that a surplus of at least two months is good to safeguard against unforeseen expenses.

Melody Marlowe, Gainesville's Administrative Services director, agrees with that assessment.

"Especially with us living through economic fluctuation, you need to set funds aside for that," she said.

When asked by commissioners if the reserves were enough,

Hollifield said each city is different, but "I think you're where you need to be financially in reserves."

Hollifield credited that success with "good diversification of revenue sources to help (the city) weather the economy." That means part of the city's success comes from collecting money several ways, including property and sales taxes and charging for services such as water.

The city raised its rates for water and sewage prior before the beginning of fiscal year 2011. It also increased customers, according to Hollifield's report.

Water and sewer rates are slated to rise again in January, when water rates will increase by 4 percent and sewer rates by 4.25 percent.