Audit shows Rockland surplus rebounds
Rockland — Rockland saw its surplus grow by nearly $100,000 during the past year.
The generally positive audit was provided to the city earlier this month by certified public accountant James Wadman of Ellsworth.
The auditor's review of city government's finances for 2015-2016 found that Rockland saw its general fund balance -- also referred to as surplus -- rise to $1,345,152. This is 7.5 percent of total property taxes billed by the city.
The council adopted a policy in 2006, on the advice of its auditors, of maintaining a surplus equal to 8 percent of the taxes billed each year.
The city took in $369,305 more in revenues than it had budgeted for 2015-2016. The largest source of unanticipated revenue was from motor vehicle excise taxes, which totaled nearly $1.1 million, about $173,000 more than budgeted.
The harbor and waterfront revenues also came to $46,000 more than anticipated, reaching $318,000 for the year.
Much of that additional revenue was reduced by overspending in multiple departments. The public works budget of $1.6 million was overspent by nearly $85,000. The fire department budget of $1.54 million was overspent by nearly $78,000. The recreation department budget of $246,000 was overspent by $63,000.
The fringe benefit account of $91,000 was overspent by $133,000. Finance Director Tom Luttrell said that was due to a high turnover of staff, who were paid accrued benefits. That was the year when multiple department heads resigned or were let go by then-Manager James Chaousis.
The police department spent nearly $59,000 less than was budgeted.
While the audit was generally positive, the auditor did point out that the city was spending money on various projects before getting council approval for the expenditures.
Those expenditures included more than $27,000 for engineering for the salt and sand shed, police cruisers and video equipment totaling nearly $65,000, another $24,000 for the connector trail, and Elm/Museum streets sidewalk.