published Friday, July 19th, 2013

Trenton revenues plunge $42,000 in June

Trenton, Ga.’s city revenues took a $42,000 dip in June that raises financial red flags despite a year-to-date surplus that easily balances it out.

Mayor Anthony Emanuel said the difference from $142,000 in budgeted revenues for June and $100,000 in actual revenues left a “wake-up call” he believes won’t last.

“It does cause you to pause,” Emanuel said Thursday.

“To counteract that, we’ve had spending controls in place all year,” the mayor said.

While revenue were down in June, halfway through the fiscal year, so were expenses, which were $7,000 less than what was budgeted. And the city overall has a $44,000 surplus for the year.

“To understand the city’s financial integrity, you have to look at what the city has done year-to-date,” he said.

Emanuel partly blamed the drop-off in revenue on the economy.

Over the last few years, Trenton lost 400 jobs when Shaw Industries shut down. And more than 30 homes still are uninhabitable after a tornado hit the town almost dead center during the April 2011 tornado outbreak, he said.

“Those two events ... had a very negative impact on revenue,” he said. While the dip in revenue isn’t a disaster, it is a reminder to “pay attention.”

City Clerk Lucretia Houts said she wasn’t alarmed by the dip because revenues fluctuate considerably throughout the year, especially since the budget contains a flat revenue and expense figure for each month.

“The first part of the year we get in a lot of money — property taxes, franchise taxes. In February or March, we get a Georgia Power check for more than $200,000,” Houts said.

“Right now, I wouldn’t be [alarmed],” she said. “If we were $45,000 down for the year, that would be a totally different story.”

Vice Mayor Tommy Lawson agreed.

“It’s stable, but like most agencies, we get most taxes at the first of the year. The budget reflects an average [of revenues],” Lawson said.

“We had the same issues last year. And last year we cut personnel,” he said.

The mayor and vice mayor said officials will move forward cautiously, watching for fluctuations that could spell trouble at the end of the fiscal year, or city emergencies that could take a toll on coffers.

“You can’t always know what’s going to break or how much it’s going to cost to fix it,” he said.

 Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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