Verify: Is Warner Robins using reserve funds to balance the budget?

Verify: Does Warner Robins use reserves to balance budget?

This week, Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms unveiled his proposal for the 2018 Fiscal Year Budget.

To balance it, the proposal allocates nearly $2.7 million from the City's reserve fund, or savings.

Mayor Randy Toms says normally that money doesn't end up getting used.

“Some of that money that we allocated from the fund balance will be used this year, but in years past we've taken it out and then not used it so it just gets put right back into the fund balance,” Toms said this week.

Jacob Reynolds set out to verify if the numbers back up Mayor Toms' words. 

WMAZ likes to tell you our sources up front. We spoke to City Clerk Bill Harte and Chief Financial Officer Holly Gross to verify Warmer Robins did not use reserve funds in 2015 or 2016 to balance the budget under Mayor Toms' leadership.

Toms said it's become common under his term to put a reserve allocation in the budget, but with one exception, the money doesn't actually get spent.

“In my administration we've done it because we've been implementing cost of living raises, we do that to balance the budget and then we don't use it,” Toms explained.

During his first two years in office, Tom's original budgets called for using $1.6 million from reserve funds to balance the books.

But Warner Robins audits show that from 2014 to 2015 unassigned general funds climbed from $16,983,917 to $17,049,560.  

The next year, they grew again by a million dollars.

In 2016, unassigned general funds sat at $18,178,393.

Over two years, reserves grew from less than $17 million to more than $18 million.

So we verified that during the Mayor's first two years, he didn't spend money out of the city reserve fund to balance the budget.

Toms said that in the past, incoming revenues have outperformed projections. 

“Now this year, because of the cost of the municipal court building and a couple of other items, we are actually going to use some of that,” Toms said.

Warner Robins’ Chief Financial Officer Holly Gross also verifies that.

During this budget year, Toms put aside $2.4 million from the reserve fund.

But estimates project to use only about a quarter of that, $650,000.

The fiscal year ends June 30th, so that number could change.

For other projects, Warner Robins Council has approved using $2.5 million for recreation and $300,000 for half the payment on the new municipal court building.

$489,116 of the funds have also been used for accounting corrections in 2016.

The reserves currently sit at $14,889,227. 

VERIFY Sources: 

Warner Robins City Clerk Bill Harte

Warner Robins Chief Financial Officer Holly Gross

VERIFY Resources: 

2018 Fiscal Year Budget Proposal

2014 City Audit Report

2015 City Audit Report

2016 City Audit Report 

2017 City of Warner Robins Annual Budget 

 

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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