Live Oak City Hall

LIVE OAK — The City of Live Oak is on “solid financial footing.”

Ryan Tucker, with Purvis Gray and Company, delivered a clean audit to the Live Oak City Council during a May 12 virtual meeting. Tucker commended the city for the strides it has made in recent years to improve its financial standing.

Tucker said at the end of the fiscal year the city had around $2.2 million in reserves in the general fund. That number was approximately $94,000 in 2013, Tucker said.

“You’ve made some significant progress in getting those reserves back to a more stable financial footing,” he said.

“The general fund is in solid financial footing now.”

Tucker reminded the council that the recommended best practice is for governments to have at least two months of operating expenses in its general fund in case of emergencies, such as a global pandemic like the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“You’re able to be fairly nimble and not rush out and borrow money to make payroll,” he said of that recommendation.

Tucker said there were two new disclosures to mention from the audit, which ran smoothly. Those were the city’s contractual dispute in public works with Jacobs as well as a disclosure that the company is placing into all of its audits in regards to COVID-19.

He added that the city’s water system has been having significant line loss, which was near 30% this year, according to Tucker.

City Manager Ron Williams admitted the city’s old system has “probably more breaks than we ever want.”

He said the city strives to get those issues repaired as quickly as it can in order to prevent that water loss and that most times, city employees aren’t aware of a problem with a particular line until a break occurs.

“That’s a continual problem you’ll have with an older system,” Tucker said. “Management into looking into what’s causing these line losses and ways to mitigate it.”

Williams said the city was pleased with the results of the audit, which he called “the financial report card of the year for the city.” He also thanked the various city department’s for their willingness to follow the budget and keep costs down.

Both Williams and Tucker credited the city’s Finance Director Joanne Luther for the clean audit. Tucker said Luther wrote up all of the city’s financial statements, something smaller municipalities normally aren’t capable of doing.

Tucker also told the council that beginning with next year’s audit, the state was requiring that the Live Oak Community Redevelopment Agency would have to have a separate audit conducted.

The council unanimously accepted the audit.

“The audit every year gives us a great indicator of where we are,” District 3 Councilman David Burch said. “I actually look forward to this because it’s so thorough.”

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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