North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

December 20, 2013

Pinson in strong financial shape, says auditors' report

Council tweaks plans for new city park

By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News

PINSON — An accounting firm has given the city of Pinson its annual financial checkup, and pronounced the patient to be healthy and growing.

The results of the city’s annual audit were presented Thursday night during the city council’s regular meeting. Charlie Polmatier, representing the accounting firm of Borland Benefield from Birmingham, told council members that the city saw an increase in net revenues over the fiscal year ending June 30, and the current balance sheet was in very good shape.

Polmatier particularly singled out the city’s $1.263 million in its unrestricted net position, equivalent to about 12 months reserve — that is, Pinson could run for 12 months if not a single dime of revenue came in.

“That position is exceptionally strong,” Polmatier said. “Four to six months’ reserve is usually a very good measure.”

The net position — the municipal equivalent of a balance sheet for a for-profit business — showed assets of $4.18 million, including $1.42 million in cash or equivalents. By contrast, the city’s total liabilities came to just over $732,000, including long-term debts. That means that, theoretically, city leaders could pay off every penny the city owed for anything at the end of June, when the fiscal year ends, and still have more than $700,000 in cash left over.

The year-over-year increase in net position from fiscal year 2012 amounted to almost $450,000.

The council also discussed at length changes to plans for the city’s new park project. Jane Ross of the Goodwyn Mills Cawood architectural firm answered questions from council members and residents, and debated changes such as material used as ground cover in the playground areas and additional benches to be located along the walking trail.

Councilman Robbie Roberts asked Ross if her firm had explored using the Kaboom program, a nationwide non-profit organization that helps communities build new playgrounds or improve existing ones. In Pinson’s case, Kaboom would help the city organize an event where residents would help build the new playground — often in a big one-day event — which would save the cost of hiring labor.

“It also helps the community buy into this because they get involved,” Roberts said.

Ross said her firm had worked with Kaboom in the past, and cited a playground in Woodlawn as an example of the group’s efforts.

Tom Monroe, a designer of disc golf courses (and a champion disc golfer as well), also showed the council the latest plans for the course that will be part of the main park.

Monroe said the new course would include 12 holes, which works well for tournament play, in which 36 holes are played in a day.

“A lot of people will come out and play this course at first,” Monroe said. “Then you will get a core group of people who will play this course regularly and then form a club. That’s what has happened in Clay and elsewhere. And once the course opens, it will go in a listing of courses in a [printed] directory and online — you have people that travel across the country to play these courses, sort of like they do with the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.”

In other business, the council approved annexation of several parcels in a strip of land along Sweeney Hollow Road. The properties are owned by the Jefferson County Commission.