By Sherri EllingtonMilner’s 2013 audit showed the routine suggestion that the city hire an extra person to provide separation of duties when it comes to handling funds ‘“ and a recommendation that city workers be allowed a week’s vacation. At the July 9 meeting, councilwoman Betty Wilson advocated a part time worker for city hall. The idea was met with tentative approval despite the fact the audit showed Milner barely broke even last year.’We’ll do it if we can,’ said Mayor Joe Bostwick.Last year Milner had to lend money from the general fund to the water fund, a process that usually works the other way for governments that run their own utilities. This was caused by an enormous amount of storm water that got into the sewage treatment system due to numerous leaks.Dr. Brenda Johnson, the head of the economics department at Gordon State College has volunteered to look over Milner’s finances after gaining a master’s degree in city planning. ‘She’s looking over everything including our potential,’ said city administrator Harold Wilson. Payment for extra sewerage treatment and needed repairs helped put the general fund temporarily in the hole. The city has since dug its way back into the black and is about to pay off those costs. H. Wilson said the purchase of a sewerage use monitor is saving a couple of thousand dollars every month since it was installed. Still, auditor Broadus Smith recommended raising both water and sewerage rates and city taxes.’Property taxes are down and that’s hurting you,’ said Smith. ‘Expenses went up and revenue didn’t go up enough to cover it. However, your records are in good shape.’There was no 2005 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax line item, just the one for 2011. The latter had a year-end balance of $118,014.’The 2005 tax is all used up,’ said Smith.He noted Milner paid off $1.7 million in water system debt last year but depreciation of the system itself showed the water fund in the red.’We’re pedaling fast but we’re not exhausted,’ said councilman George Weldon. Smith suggested offsite storage of backup financial records, noting if city hall were to be damaged or destroyed, so would Milner’s backup data. ‘It would be disastrous,’ he said. The audit was approved and must now be rearranged before it is sent to the Department of Community Affairs. This is due to a new requirement that local governments show exactly how they are using state transportation funds.
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