Audit shows Williston's financials are solid

Williston's annual audit was presented to town council members during the regular meeting Dec. 9.

Mayor Jason Stapleton said the town received an "unqualified opinion," which is the best it can get. The audit was conducted by Highsmith and Highsmith, LLC.

According to the audit, Williston brought in $1.73 million in revenue ($60,000 more than was budgeted) and spent $1.61 million ($430,000 less than budgeted). The large difference in expenses was in part because the town only spent $49,000 on the fire department but had budgeted for $365,000. It also cut sanitation costs by $176,000.

Town Administrator Kenny Cook said in an email the vast difference in the fire department funds is because "the fire truck was purchased under a lease-purchase arrangement where it was financed through BB&T bank for ten years. The town had to initially cut a check for the fire truck to get it in. Then the title was turned over to the bank, who then cut (the town) a check for the loan amount to be paid off over ten years."

The truck cost $254,912.

The town originally budgeted to have a $380,000 deficit at the end of the year - but that didn't happen. By the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the general fund reserves had increased $120,000 - from 1.21 million to 1.33 million.

The town's water and sewer fund had nearly $6 million in its coffers at the end of the year. Total revenue was 1.05 million and expenses equaled $942,000.

The accountant who was supposed to talk about the audit was not at the meeting due to a death in the family, but he is scheduled to be at the January meeting.

In other business:
Council also approved the purchase of 500 water meters for $89,880 - $168 per meter plus sales tax. The meters are radio meters - each sends a signal to a device instead of someone manually checking the number on each meter - and will replace the current meters installed on the property of the town's water customers.

The town has to replace about 1100 meters. The rest will be budgeted for as part of the 2014-15 fiscal year budget.

At the beginning of the meeting, Police Chief Roger Kaney swore in a new police officer, Devrinn Washington. Williston now has nine police officers - council approved funds for another officer in the current year's budget, which will bring the police department up to 10 officers.

Stapleton said it was the first time an officer had been sworn in at a council meeting.

Stapleton said the town Christmas parade and tree lighting were excellent, and he thanked everyone involved with organizing the events.