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First quarter financial update discussed at City Council meeting

By Amanda Raymond
amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — City Manager Lane Bailey released budget figures for the first quarter of the fiscal year during the City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Revenues for the general fund, which is budgeted at about $42.1 million, were at 34 percent for the first quarter, which includes July, August and September. Expenditures were at 23 percent.

Revenues for the $23.1 million water and sewer fund were at 31 percent and expenditures were at 20 percent.

Transit fund fare revenue was budgeted at $80,140 and 30 percent has been received. Expenses were budgeted at about $1.7 million and 16 percent has been expended.

The $1.4 million storm water fund brought in 25 percent in revenues and expended 15 percent.

Teresa Harris, finance director, presented two different graphs for the Fibrant fund. One graph included the refinancing of Fibrant’s debt and had revenues at about $31 million and expenses at $33.9 million. Without including the refinancing, the revenues were about $2 million and expenses were at $1.8 million.

Councilman David Post said the figures seem to suggest that there will be $8 million in Fibrant revenues by the end of the fiscal year.

“We very well could be,” Harris said.

Harris said the customer base has remained pretty much stable over the last few months, but the city has been canceling service for customers who did not pay their bill.

“… Last year, revenues were about $5.5 million for the year. And so if they’re $2 million for the first quarter and you multiply that times four, that’s eight, and customers are going down … there’s a mismatch there somewhere, can you see that?” Post said.

Councilman Brian Miller asked if there were any income events that occurred in the first quarter that were unusual. Harris said there weren’t any.

“Keep in mind that we do subsidize Fibrant fund with the general fund and that is considered part of the revenue,” Harris said.

Harris confirmed that the subsidies come in unequal installments.

“And that would be timed according to certain expenditure needs that might not be level across the full year, so in other words to answer (whether Fibrant’s revenues would amount to $8 million at the end of the fiscal year), not necessarily,” Miller said.

Post suggested that the subsidy amount be separated out so that the revenues from the operation of Fibrant can be more clearly seen.

Harris said she could recalculate the graphs to reflect that.

Another graph showed Fibrant’s average revenues per user or account at about $130, slightly above Time Warner Cable’s from the fourth quarter of 2015 and lower than Verizon’s from the third quarter of 2016.

“The problem with comparing to Time Warner Cable and Verizon is finding the information and I’m not sure, especially with Verizon, how comparable it is to our Fibrant,” Harris said.

Post said another issue with comparing Fibrant with Time Warner Cable and Verizon is every Fibrant customer is counted as a full customer.

“I’ve talked to finance professionals around the country, including Wilson, which is probably as close as we’re going to get, and they don’t do the total customers, they do a breakdown by customer by service presented,” he said.

Mayor Karen Alexander asked if Harris would present the figures in that way and Harris agreed.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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