Financial Report Highlighted By Booming Assessments

OCEAN CITY – A Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, along with a Report to Citizens, was presented to the Mayor and Council at a work session Tuesday.

Finance Officer Martha Bennett presented the two-pronged report to the Mayor and Council Tuesday, highlighting various aspects of the fiscal year 2007.

Both reports summarized the fiscal year 2007, which ended June 30. Bennett presented the Mayor and Council with a 135-page Comprehensive Financial Report and an eight-page Report to Citizens.

The major initiatives of the FY 2007 were disaster recovery planning and continuity of operations, Bayshore Drive, the North Transit Center, the Tarry-A-While Guest House and the Public Safety Storage Building.

Bennett explained where the money, or majority of revenues, came from in FY 2007, noting that the majority, 54 percent, came from property taxes; 18 percent was drawn from charges for services; and 19 percent stemmed from other taxes.

Both the comprehensive report and the citizen report present a graph indicating service fees and expenses of governmental activities. Bennett explained that it highlighted the extent to which governmental functions produce revenues to their program costs. Public safety had the highest costs, with $28 million in expenses.

According to the report to citizens, “the town’s overall financial position improved from 2006 to 2007 by $4,885,386.” There was also an increase in property taxes of $5.1 million or 15.5 percent due to assessments and new construction. Overall, total revenues increased 6.7 percent while expenses increased 7 percent.

Bennett presented the Mayor and Council with a summary of where the town stood at year-end, June 30. The total assets of the town, what is owned, totaled $228 million at year end, with liabilities, what is owed, totaling $98.6 million at year end. As a result, the total excess of assets over debts in the FY 2007 was $30 million.

Bennett pointed out that over the past four years the town has seen a dramatic increase in assessments, increasing 217 percent. Bennett explained that increase would not continue in the next fiscal year.

“This is cyclical in nature,” Bennett said, explaining that the town saw a similar increase from 1985 to 1987 with a downturn in the early 90’s. Bennett explained that as a result, the city anticipates a downturn in assessments and have planned for it.

A few of the financial highlights as of June 30 are outlined in the Comprehensive Report. The town’s governmental funds reported a combined ending fund balance of $11.6 million. The unreserved fund balance increased to 14.9 percent of general fund expenditures. FY 2007 saw a decrease in net debt of $3.9 million.

Operating information figures were also highlighted in the citizen report. Bennett pointed out that the total arrests for FY 2007 were 3,925 with 9,284 parking violations. Fire responses totaled 1,460, while ambulance responses totaled 5,580.

In the transportation department, FY 2007 saw 3.4 million bus passengers.

The average summer population for FY 2007 was 259,105 with 8,248 year-round residents and 5,447 registered voters.

After hearing the review of FY 2007, the Mayor and Council commended Bennett and her department for gathering the information and presenting it to the council and the citizens. Bennett explained that one of the main goals of the report is to have information available to citizens.