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Whitesburg council presented with audit

An audit for fiscal year ending June 30, 2007 was presented to the Whitesburg City Council at its February meeting. The audit was prepared by Chris Gooch, a certified public accountant from Hazard, and declares the city to be in good financial condition. Mayor James Wiley Craft told the council that Gooch will attend the March meeting to explain the audit results and to answer any questions council members may have.

The audit lists the city as having an ending cash balance of $1,410,174. Of that amount, $237,783 is considered restricted for use on a single project. The city reduced its proprietary debt principal by $76,946 and its government debt principal by $115,079. The city also received commitments from various federal and state funding agencies to assist in financing the wastewater treatment plant, including $2 million from the Governor’s Office of Local Development and $1 million from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority.

The only area of concern listed in the audit report is lack of administration procedures for utility meter readings, cash reconciliation and monthly bank statements, tax and business license receipts, and utility receipts, or evidence of posting to the general ledger enabling timely periodic and annual financial reporting. The report said these areas are crucial to prevent risk of financial misstatement and could cause errors in annual financial statements. However, no evidence of such was noted in the report.

In other business, the council accepted a letter of resignation from Police Chief Scott Adams, who is leaving because of health issues. Adams has served the city for over 21 years. He also worked as a school resource officer at the old Whitesburg High School.

The council also learned that bids have been opened for construction of a pedestrian bridge that will span the North Fork of the Kentucky River and connect city parking lots on East Main Street and Broadway.

Jim Walker of Nesbitt Engineering reported that Bush and Burchett of Prestonsburg, a stateapproved contractor, submitted the low bid of $324,915. Apex Construction of Paris, Ky., submitted the next lowest bid. The estimated total cost for the project is $400,000, which includes a number of items of work to be done by the city.

Mayor James Wiley Craft said the city’s goal of opening the bridge by July 4 may not be reached, but he still hopes that it will. Craft said one obstacle facing the project is the relocation of a power line. He said that while Kentucky Power Company works well with the city, the company also moves at the “blinding speed of a snail.”

The bridge will be 90 feet long and 16 feet wide. Mayor Craft said the city’s alcohol beverage tax fund will pay for 20 percent of the project while the rest will be covered by a federal transportation, or TEA-21, grant.

Craft also announced that Kentucky Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP), will charge the city $4,000 to connect electricity to the Whitco sewer pump station and estimates it will take 30 days to complete. The council approved a 30-day extension of its contract with H20 for construction of the Whitco sewer system to accommodate Kentucky Power.

“Except for the rates they charge, AEP has always had a good relationship with us,” said Craft.

In other business, Craft asked the council’s Water Committee to look at the report and said a rate increase to customers who buy water through the Letcher County Water and Sewer District may be necessary because the city is losing money by selling water to the county at the current rate.

“We’re losing approximately 55 cents to 65 cents per one-thousand gallons of water sold outside the city,” said Craft.

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