CAO attributes continued success to low debt
PARRSBORO – The finances are in good order at Parrsboro town hall, according to auditor George Jorgensen, who presented audited statements of the town’s general operating fund and its water utility at a special Aug. 28 council session. Jorgensen reported total revenue of $2,458,199 and total expenses of $2,262,631, leaving excess revenue of $195,568, although these consolidated statements included items outside the town’s regular balance sheet, such as the Cumberland Joint Services Management Authority. The town’s actual surplus is closer to the amount of $83,000, according to CAO Ray Hickey. The town’s water utility carried forward a surplus of $346,829 after recording an operating profit of $29,840 in the fiscal year ending on March 31. The town has been able to maintain a strong financial position because it is debt-free, according to Hickey. “The primary thing is we don’t have debt,” he said. “The only debt we had was for the first phase of the sewage treatment plant, and that was paid off last year. We don’t have any debt going forward right now, and we plan to keep it at a minimum.” The town’s operating expenses are also lean due to a very low staff-per-citizen ration, according to Hickey, who explained that the town saves money by having the same employee manage both the water utility and the general public works department, and by outsourcing services such as planning. As for the water utility, he said it is operating at stable rate, although profits are decreasing. “It’s getting a little tighter, and a part of that is because water testing is going up,” he said. “You have the cost of testing, and you have to test more often and more extensively to meet regulations, so that’s getting tighter, but it’s still good.” Mayor Lois Smith said she was not surprised by Jorgensen’s report, as Hickey has kept her and council well updated on the town’s finances throughout the year. “We try to run a tight ship, and we certainly don’t try to waste money,” she said. “However, we do want to build up reserves for those emergencies, when you’re talking about public works equipment and things of that nature.” The town was able to purchase a new street-sweeping machine this year thanks to its available reserve funds, according to Smith, and that reserves are available for any such future requirements. For example, she said the town plans to move ahead with Phase Two of the sewage treatment project, and that reserve funds could be used to help fund its share. “We have been building on all our accounts through the years, putting a little here and a little there, so if we need $200-300,000, it’s there,” said Smith. The mayor said she was quite pleased with the audited statements presented. “We don’t have tons of money to spare, but we’re certainly getting the job done,” she said.