In 14 months, the City of Greenville’s finances has made a dramatic turnaround. When a new mayor and two new aldermen were elected in April 2016, the city was drowning in debt with $160,000 in unpaid bills; now, the bulk of the debt has been repaid.
The Greenville City Council had a question-and-answer session to discuss finances before the Tuesday, July 11, meeting. Larry Burchard, mayor pro tem, said that the primary reason for the turnaround has been the city living within its budget. The city reduced expenditures. The residents of Greenville also stepped up and opened their pocketbooks to help. Several residents donated money to help pay bills; the community also held a fundraiser to generate funds.
Bills that were owed in April 2016, included $30,335.16 in regular bills, $27,592.42 for a new tractor, over $66,000 in various taxes, $30,053 in penalties and interest. Cash on hand at that time was $4,916.13.
As of last week, Greenville has less than $25,000 of outstanding debt. That money is owed to the IRS. Burchard said Greenville has enough money on hand to pay the remaining debt but has decided to continue with a repayment plan that was put into place several months ago. The city has agreed to pay the IRS $3,500 a month.
Today, Greenville has $69,890.14 in all of its accounts. Of that figure, $27,877.22 is in General Revenue, $18,528.01 is in the police fund, and $17,372.39 is in the water and sewer department.
In the last 14 months, Greenville has been able to gain $138,848.49. “We definitely appreciate all of the donations and hard work from our community,” Burchard said.
Burchard praised City Clerk Judy Osborn. He said she has spent many hours on the telephone working to resolve Greenville’s financial woes with the IRS and the state.
“No one has any idea of the number of hours she has spent on the phone and the paperwork,” Burchard said. “You have no idea of the amount of aggravation she went through to help us.”
The IRS abated $30,053.14 in penalties. The residents of Greenville raised $20,000. The city sold the tractor and paid off that debt.
Since the new administration was elected 14 months ago, Greenville has been trying to rebuild its books. A certified public accountant was hired to sort through the city’s records and determine where the city’s money went under the previous administration. The Highway Patrol also began an investigation.
Work done by the city’s certified public accountant is complete. The accountant is slated to meet first with the Highway Patrol to deliver the results and then with the city council. According to Burchard, the city has no idea what is in the report.
“We won’t know if we will be required to have a state audit until we get the report back from the Highway Patrol,” Burchard said.
While cutting expenses, the city has been able to make improvements. Burchard said that he believes the city has done a lot of “good work.”
Residents of Greenville approved a 1-cent sales tax for the general fund in November. The city began collecting the money in April and expects July to be the first month when they receive the full benefits of it.