Jasper, Tenn., gets good audit; water fund identified as problem

Jasper, Tenn., gets good audit; water fund identified as problem

February 17th, 2017 by Ryan Lewis in Local Regional News

The Jasper City Hall in downtown Jasper, Tenn.

The Jasper City Hall in downtown Jasper, Tenn.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. — Municipal leadership is judged typically on yearly audits.

At the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen's February meeting, city leaders got a first look at the town's 2016 report.

Paul Johnson, with Johnson, Murphey & Wright in Chattanooga, said Jasper received a "good report that the state is going to be glad to see."

The town's assets increased from $3.2 million in 2015 to $3.7 million in 2016.

During that same time, its liabilities went from $494,000 to $697,000.

"They [liabilities] were up about $200,000, but the assets were up over $500,000," Johnson said. "The general fund had a good year this year — a really good year."

Jasper's revenue stream increased, as well, jumping from $1.8 million in 2015 to $2.1 million in 2016.

"You can see how fast the revenues are growing," Johnson said. "The town is growing, so that's always a good sign."

He said one of the main reasons the town has been so financially successful is the building up of some reserves to pay for things in the future.

"Every year they've set back some money, so when the big projects came along, they had money in the bank to pay for them," Johnson said. "They weren't constantly going out and borrowing more and more money."

The news wasn't all good, however.

"We're struggling with our water fund," Johnson said.

Mayor Paul Evans agreed, saying Jasper lost more than $100,000 on the water system in 2016.

"Our water rates are way below everybody else's, and that's a problem because we're not generating enough revenue for the water system to pay for those expenses," he said.

Jasper's minimum water bill is $11 per month, Evans said, while nearby Dunlap, Tenn., has a minimum bill of $27.

When combined with the sewer and garbage activities, the town still comes out in the black on its business activities, but he said the board would have to seriously consider a water rate hike for the next fiscal year.

Still, Johnson said city leaders should be proud of their 2016 audit statement.

"It's a great report," he said. "I'd be thrilled with it. They've shown some good financial stability here in this town."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.


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