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Lula mayor says he’s leaving city in better financial shape
Milton Turner 0708

As he prepares to leave office after four terms and 16 years as mayor of Lula, Milton Turner had one burning question to ask the city’s auditor earlier this week.

After possibly hearing the annual audit presentation for the last time as mayor, Turner asked certified public accountant Wayne Tuck: Do you feel like I got us out of financial trouble, and (I’m) leaving the city in good financials?

The CPA with the Walker, Pierce & Tuck firm in Gainesville appeared a little taken aback by the question, but wasted no time responding.

“Obviously, I think every year I’ve done the audit for the city I’ve given an unqualified opinion, which is proof that the financials are accurate,” Tuck said at Monday night’s Lula City Council meeting. “I think we’re seeing positive flow in several of the years here. Obviously, during your term here the city built the sewer treatment plant. There’s been a lot of positives during your time here.”

Turner, who lost a bid for a fifth consecutive term to Jim Grier, who sat in the audience, appeared satisfied.

“Just wanted to know the city’s in good financial shape,” he said.

City Manager Dennis Bergin, who previewed the 27-page audit prior to the presentation, earlier called it one of the best during Turner’s tenure in office.

Tuck’s presentation appeared to support Bergin’s assessment.

“It’s nice to see that the general fund’s cash went up about $171,000 over the prior year,” Tuck said. “And the capital projects fund went up about $123,000. That’s a great thing.”

Tuck noted that the numbers indicate growth “and that things are headed in the right direction” for Lula. He said a good indicator of that is the general fund’s net fund balance position increasing by $218,849.

“The general fund is the key thing here,” Tuck said. “Anytime you see a net increase in your fund balance that’s a good thing. In other words, your income was greater than your expenses.”

Although the standalone water and sewer fund — the city’s enterprise fund — showed net operating income down $127,339, Tuck said that too was an improvement over a year ago when net operating income registered a loss of $193,000.

Turner was quick to point out that a markdown of $265,184 in depreciation accounted for the enterprise fund operating at a loss.

“Your are correct,” Tuck said. “You have positive cash flow, but you have a depreciation expense there… again, it is an indication that assets are getting older, they’re wearing out and they are one day closer to needing to be replaced.”

Looking at the big picture, Lula had $3.3 million of total government funds, and $8.6 million in the water and sewer fund as of fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.