Vidalia audit shows assets of $83.7 million

Published 5:09 pm Wednesday, February 9, 2022

NATCHEZ — The Town of Vidalia received a clean audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.

Scott Adams, CPA with Silas Simmons, presented the audit during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Vidalia Board of Aldermen.

The audit reflects total assets of $83.7 million, which is approximately a $7 million increase from the prior year, Adams said. He added the primary driver of that increase is the town’s investment in fixed assets, which was up by approximately $5 million for the year.

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The town accountant Debra Moak said the town began construction of a new electric substation in June 2020, which is being financed through a $7 million state bond.

To date, the town has borrowed $4.25 million to cover the materials, engineering costs and legal fees incurred in securing portions of the rights of way from private landowners, Moak said.

The audit reflects the town’s total liabilities increased by roughly $3 million due to issuing the electric bond. The town’s net income was up by $3.9 million for the year while the general fund shows a positive change of $650,000.

The town’s revenue in services and programs such as utilities was up by $17.4 million while the general revenue, which consists primarily of sales tax and royalty payments from the hydroelectric station, was down about $400,000. Adams said this was because hydroelectric royalty payments were lower than was expected.

Total expenses were approximately $31.7 million, which is a decrease by approximately $400,000 from last year, he said.

“Overall, you are trending in a positive direction,” Adams said.

He noted a finding the town had in 2020 regarding untimely deposits being made from city court has since been corrected. No findings were noted in the 2021 audit.

“All of us should be proud of this financial report,” Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said. “Cities and towns are struggling all across the board and you don’t have to travel far to see that. Vidalia is setting the bar for what a town should look like.”

Moak said as of Dec. 31, 2021, the town has a total fund balance of approximately $31 million, with $41 million in assets and $10 million in liabilities. The town has combined “cash in the bank” of $10.4 million, Moak said. This includes restricted funds of $8 million in the hydroelectric fund and $1 million in the sales tax fund.

The town has received $705,000 of the $1.4 million allocated to the town in the American Rescue Plan Act with the rest expected to come later this year, she said.

“None of this money has been spent and is being held as a liability until the funds are expensed,” she said. “Any expenses paid using these funds will need board approval.”

In other matters during Tuesday’s board meeting, the board:

–Heard a presentation from Cassandra Lynch, organizer of the Krewe of Vidal Mardi Gras Parade. Lynch said the parade takes place at 3 p.m. on Feb. 26. Line up for participants takes place at Vidalia Upper Elementary School.

“The Krewe of Vidal stands for all of you,” Lynch said. “That name represents our community. Please consider participating to make it bigger and better. You can bring a float, a car or an ATV. … We need more people to participate.”

— Heard a presentation from Sabrina Doré, organizer of the Miss-Lou Fireworks shows on the Mississippi River, which take place on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve.

Doré asked town officials if they would consider increasing their annual contribution to the shows from $5,000 to $10,000, which could also be matched by the City of Natchez pending board approval. Doré said the reason is the cost of fireworks has increased and the minimum cost to have the show increased from $5,000 to $10,000. She said the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has also taken its toll on the sponsorships for the show.

“The smallest show was last year and it was an $11,000 show,” she said.

No action was requested in regard to the fireworks during Tuesday’s meeting.