BONIFAY - City Auditor Hilton Galloway returns to Bonifay for the city's annual audit with news that brought nods of approval during their regular scheduled meeting on July 14.
"After all the accounts are put together it actually shows the city with a $20,000 surplus, which is very positive," said Galloway. "There is still a lot of leg work ahead to do some reclassification for the city. All paperwork is in accordance and there is no discrepancies."
He informed that as of last year the City of Bonifay had $7.1 million in on-going debt, however commended Mayor Lawrence Cloud on his success in negotiating away $525,000 of that debt and his continued efforts, with the latest amount being $1.2 million. He advised that for those debts that are unable to be negotiated away should then be refinanced for a lower interest rate.
The income generated from gas taxes and expenses for day-to-day operations "break even," said Galloway.
"Next I would like to touch upon your due diligence on finding the reason for the 34 percent of city water lost per year," he said. "Whether it is uncharged water or a lot of leaks, there is no account where that water is being lost. The average amount unaccounted for is an average of 8 percent to 25 percent for uncharged water, like for fire fighters to use, water fountains at parks, etc.; 34 percent is just too excessive."
Galloway also recommended that the city increase their water rates. He explained that the income for water usage and expenses to replace the water and sewer lines were too far apart to make a difference.
"The audit went very well this year," said Galloway.
After much discussion Council approved of City Attorney Lucas Taylor writing an ordinance to raise the water rates by 10 percent and sewer by four percent this year and four percent every year for three years, which at that time would be readdressed by the council to either increase or decrease.
· Council agreed to allow the Bonifay City Garden Club to rearrange the large flower pots in downtown Bonifay in the club's recent efforts to continue beautifying the city. Attending the meeting on behalf of the Bonifay Garden Club was President Adonna Bartlett. Bartlett thanked the city for allowing the garden club to service the city and informed them that the club is possibly going to plant crape myrtles in the large pots.
· Council approved of FRDAP Work Plan in the amount of $50,000 complete reimbursable money to fix and improve the water park at Middlebrooks Park as well as the basketball court, restrooms, playground and to build an exercise trail.
· Council held the first reading of Ordinance 388, which prohibits residents and lawn care professionals from dumping excessive yard clippings and debris into storm drains and ditches. Taylor explained that he emphasized on "excessive" because the purpose of the ordinance was to stop people from clogging the drainage ways and causing massive flooding issues. He used a recent example of a ditch clogged with debris caused water to overflow into someone's residency. He also recommended that a letter be sent out to all licensed lawn care professionals to give them a chance to voice their opinions at the next council meeting.
· City Clerk Jeri Gibson explained to the Council that local business owner Henry Pitts was refusing to pay a deposit for water and sewer to his place of business on the grounds that his business does not have water or sewer. Council member Richard Woodham said he begged to differ, stating that Pitts used the water and sewer from the business adjacent him. Council agreed to discuss the matter further with the business owner in the hopes of an agreement be met.
The next scheduled meeting of the Bonifay City Council is set for 6 p.m. on July 28.