Rising revenues make 2013 a lucrative year

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, December 31, 2013

During 2013, every local government in Pike County saw its tax revenue increase from 2012.

After years of holding negative balances, the Pike County Commission has been able to successfully balance its budget over the past few years. At a ‘state of the county’ address in December, Commissioner Robin Sullivan detailed the county’s turnaround. “In 2004, the commission was $8 million in debt,” Sullivan said. “All of our accounts had negative balances. I am pleased to say that now our general fund now has a surplus of over $1 million. Our goal at the commission is to always be good stewards of your tax dollars”

The commission also received a clean financial audit for the past fiscal year. “Before 2009, the state would audit our finances and tell us what we were doing wrong,” Sullivan said. “Since 2009, there have been no findings on our audit.”

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From 2012 to 2013, the county’s General Fund increased by nearly 31 percent from $5,179,114 to $6,443,503.

The City of Brundidge also had a strong financial year. Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said his city’s financial success stems from the city owning it’s own utilities. “We own our own electricity, water and waste water,” Ramage said. “Owning all of these utilities has contributed to Brundidge’s economic strength. That allows us to do a lot of things we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. Our sales tax is up $30,000 from last year, and Family Dollar will be breaking ground on a new building on Main St.”

In addition to the Family Dollar, Brundidge will welcome the Fresenius Dialysis Center to town in 2014. The city’s total budget increased by 15 percent from 2012.

Even Goshen saw its tax revenue increase from 2012. The small town took in a total of $161,000 in revenue this past year, a 2.5 percent increase from 2012. The city also spent $7,000 less than in 2012.

The City of Troy saw similar financial success during 2013. The city took in more than $8 million in various sales taxes throughout the city and added an additional $7.5 million through the utility department, both increases over 2012 levels.

They city’s total budget for 2014 comes in at around $60 million. Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said the city’s surplus has allowed the city to better serve its citizens. “We had a $60 million budget this year, and we saw our fund balance increase to $3,489,778,” Reeves said. “We have been able to spend money on public safety. We were able to buy new firetrucks and hire more police officers.”

The city was able to give employees a 1.1 percent cost-of-living increase raise this year because of the city’s financial strength.

Kathleen Sauer, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce said the financial strength of the local governments has had a positive impact in the private sector. “Pike County has been very fortunate to have many new businesses open their doors in 2013,” Sauer said. “These businesses are diverse and range from the small self-owned operations to the larger corporate franchises. Whether new or existing, each business helps fill a need or service to our citizens and contributes to our local tax base.”

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said the county’s financial strength is only possible because of the cooperation between the many municipal governments. “Pike County is unique,” Ramage said. “We work together in Pike County. We realize that, if a project comes to Pike County, we will all benefit economically.”