Farmerville Mayor Stein Baughman, Jr. and the Town Council met Monday in a special session to hear results from the 2018/2019 Audit.
Accountants with Garrett and Garrett CPAs gave the council a clean audit report, with zero findings. The town’s last audit had produced three findings.
As an entity, Farmer-ville is in solid financial shape with roughly $3.7 million in the bank. Only $622,000, however is unassigned. That means the rest of it is already earmarked for projects and/or expenses.
While there were no findings in the audit, there were several issues that will require some work from the council.
The garbage department has been losing money. The town has been using money from the general fund and money from sales tax revenues to cover the deficit. Also, many fines and tickets issued by FPD are going unpaid.
“This has been a problem for some time,” said Town Attorney Joe Cusimano.
It seems that instead of paying a fine, citizens would rather spend time in jail. The town tries to work with people who owe fines, allowing them to pay over time.
But that doesn’t always work out. Even if they make the first payment, they don’t show for the others and end up arrested on a bench warrant.
Councilman Ricky Johnikin was vocal about doing a better job of collecting money for fines. “There’s almost no point in writing tickets,” he said. The rest of the council agreed.
Another big issue is cutoffs. People who haven’t paid water and sewer bills aren’t being cut off.
Water District No. 1, which buys water from the town when needed, and at a discounted rate, has a written agreement that it will cutoff water to any of its customers who aren’t paying their Town of Farmerville sewer bill. The town notifies the water district about the delinquent payments and the district is supposed to shut off water to that customer.
That has not been happening and some customers’ bills are piling up.
The council voted last night that as of January 1, Water District No. 1 will be charged full price for water it gets from the town.
There are more issues to fix going forward, but the mayor and his council are headed in the right direction.