Auditor: Springhill budget out of balance

By Paige Nash

Emergency projects creating budget imbalances caused concern for Springhill City Council’s auditor.

Kristine Cole with Wise, Martin & Cole, L.L.C. attended a recent council workshop to address some concerns she has entering the new fiscal year set to begin on July 1, 2023.   

 “My concern for the 2023-2024 budget is that we are amending the budget because in the 2022-2023 we are exceeding those amounts budgeted due to emergency projects,” said Cole.   

Cole explained that the budget is the council’s authority to spend, but if the budgeted amount for each department is hit, then that budget should be amended for it to be increased.   

“It’s a way to kind of be fiscally responsible, so that you realize, I do need to spend the expenses over here, but maybe I can adjust some over there,” said Cole. “It is like being aware how you would you own pocketbook.”  

After reviewing the projected 2023- 2024 budget Cole explained that what is being budgeted must be amended to catch up to the amounts that have already been spent.   

One of the major departments putting the City of Springhill in a hole is the Water Fund due to emergency projects.  

Water lines break and sewer lines bust,” said City of Springhill Mayor Ray Huddleston. “We’re going into the sales tax fund and money that we shouldn’t even have to be involved with. People complain about their water bill, but they don’t understand that the sewers have to be replaced. The water lines have to be replaced and they ain’t got a clue.”  

Cole explained that emergencies situation like the water and sewer issue are unavoidable.  

She said, “You’re going to have emergencies happen and you want to take care of those. Sometimes you have an emergency come up, but you might have to sacrifice something else that you actually budgeted to cover that expense.”  

She suggested that each department head and the mayor monitor the expenses quarterly and be watchful and fully aware of what gets approved in the future.   

“If you continue budgeting this way, you potentially use all the surpluses from the sales tax you’ve accumulated and you don’t want to do that,” said Cole. “We are transferring more money not only to the General Fund, but also to the Water Fund.

Mayor Huddleston explained that the water/sewer rates are “out of whack.” He said, “They don’t want to raise the water rates. They raise cane and won’t vote for it. That’s put us in a hole.”  

The council went through the previous budget in comparison to the new 2023-2024 budget and discussed possible cuts from the Tourism Department, specifically Christmas on Main, along with the Police and Custodial Departments.  

In last month’s regular meeting for the month of May, the council voted to amend the budget for 2023 to include the following items not included in the original budget: 

Phase II Downtown Sidewalks – $27,000  

Walking Trail Repairs- $9,490 

Civic Center Squares Painting- $4,200  

RV Building Painting & Repairs- $6,543

Westside Community Center Painting- $3,875

In the June regular meeting, a special ordinance was adopted for supplementing and amending the operating budget of revenues and expenditures for the previous year. They also passed an ordinance adopting an operating budget of revenues and expenditures for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2024.