MACON, Ga. — After 12 years in office, Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert's reign is coming to an end. He delivered his final State of the Community message Thursday, and stated that he began his time in office with a negative "fund balance."
We set out to verify if that's correct.
Before we get into how much money was in the account in 2007, let's break down what a fund balance is. Essentially, it's the city's worth. Auditors say to get that number, you subtract the city's liabilities from its assets. If you have $1,000 in your pocket but $3,000 in bills to pay, then you have a negative balance of $2,000.
Mayor Reichert says he was left with a negative balance much larger than that.
"Now, let's think back to December of 2007, when I was inaugurated as Mayor of the City of Macon, and I inherited a negative fund balance," Reichert said during his State of the Community speech.
On Friday, former Mayor C. Jack Ellis told 13WMAZ that wasn't true, so we checked our records to verify.
In 2013, Ellis told 13WMAZ that before he left office new auditors told city leaders they couldn't carry a $15 million debt on the books. It was generated by the Centreplex and Solid Waste Department, so they paid it off.
"So when we wrote off that $15 million, it automatically put us at a fund balance. That's not money now. That's not real money, but it shows a deficit of $3.4 million," Ellis said in 2013.
So, yes, technically the fund balance was left in the red.
Macon-Bibb spokesman, Chris Floore, sent us a copy of a 2008 audit on Friday that verifies that number, too.
Ellis contends that he did leave $6 million in the city's "lock box," which he also calls the "fund balance" reserve.
The mayor's office still argues they were left in the hole and have spent the last 12 years digging Macon-Bibb out.
Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore says at the end of fiscal year 2019 (which ended in June), the fund balance had more than $19 million in it.
Floore says the county increased its cash reserves by increasing sales tax revenue and spending less than budgeted.
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