Note: This is a letter written to the North Jefferson News by Gardendale City Clerk Keith Mosely.
During the Gardendale city council meeting on Oct. 4, statements were made regarding the city of Gardendale's financial reserves which were contrary to other statements that have been made previously by other city officials and that have also been published in the media during the past few weeks. The statements in question were made during the public comments portion of the council meeting during which the council was considering a proposed increase in the city's sales tax. The discrepancy was then picked up by the media and has undoubtedly caused some confusion and misunderstanding among some of our citizens who may be asking, “So, how much money do we really have?” As the city clerk, treasurer and head of administration for the city of Gardendale, I feel a sense of duty to set the record straight and to make the facts available to our citizens, in an informative and impartial manner, regarding the city's reserves. After all, the city's reserves belong to the citizens of Gardendale, and the citizens are
entitled to know that we are accounting for their money accurately. Incidentally, it is not my purpose to tell the citizens whether the city needs an additional 1% sales tax. That's not my role here, and that matter has been decided anyway. The purpose is simply to correct misstatements that were made Monday evening and to inform the citizens of the correct amount of the City's financial reserves.
The City's reserves are generally divided into two categories: general fund moneys and special revenue funds. The majority of the City's money consists of general fund moneys which may be used for any type of expense. The remaining portion consists of various types of special revenue funds which may be used only for certain types of expenditures, depending on the source of the funds or whether there is a binding agreement in place that restricts the use of the funds. For example, under Alabama law, gas tax funds may be used only for public roadway purposes, such as construction, repair, and resurfacing. Also, under state law, any cash or property awarded to the City as the result of a successful drug conviction may be used only for drug enforcement expenses. In addition, any grant funds that have been awarded to the City for a particular project may be used only for that project. These are just a few examples of such special revenue funds. It should be noted, however, that even the special revenue funds may be used to pay day-to-day operating expenses if those expenditures meet the funds' legal requirements. For example, the Corrections (Jail/Court) Fund, which is authorized by law to be used for the operation and maintenance of the jail and court, may legally be used to pay the salaries of the jailers and magistrates because this is a type of expenditure that meets the criteria of an operating expense.
As of September 30, the City of Gardendale's bank statements reflect a total cash balance of $5,976,599.70. This amount consists of general fund moneys in the amount of $4,606,871.61 and special revenue funds in the amount of $1,369,728.09. The special revenue funds may be broken down further into Gas Tax Funds: $426,522.34; Library Grant Funds: $335,575.55; Alabama Trust Fund Capital Improvement Account: $286,565.46; E-911 Fund: $131,666.58; Drug Enforcement Account Fund: $98,226.60; and Corrections (Jail/Court) Fund: $91,171.56. For full disclosure purposes, it is important to note that these figures merely reflect the bank balances as of September 30. As of the date of this writing, the bank accounts have not yet been reconciled to the City's general ledger. Therefore, the total, final, reconciled balance will be less than $5,976,599.70 due to outstanding checks that have not yet cleared the bank. I am providing these figures simply to serve as a quick, convenient, and close approximation of the City's reserves as of September 30.
It is my sincere hope that this information is beneficial in clearing the air regarding the City's financial reserves. This is the first occasion in my eleven years of service as the city clerk to make a public statement through the media in this manner. However, after much consideration, I came to the conclusion that this topic was far too important to ignore, as it involves millions of dollars and affects every citizen of Gardendale. I'm happy to set the record straight. If I can ever be of further service to Gardendale residents about this topic or any other matter, I welcome your questions and feedback. Feel free to contact me by phone (631-8789) or e-mail (city email@example.com) or just drop in and see me at City Hall.