By Lee Weyhrich
The city of Clay got some good news regarding its beleaguered finances this week
The city, which has faced several economic hardships over the past few years, looked as if it might be facing one more. The ongoing audit has shown between $230,000 and $270,000 that was misspent from the general fund last year. The debt will have to be paid off within the next three years in compliance with the law.
City Manager Ronnie Dixon and Mayor Charles Webster first looked into refinancing the city’s debt in order to make payments easier, but quickly learned that would not be possible.
“The bank wanted $990,000 up front,” Dixon said. “They wanted us to pay that up front before they’d even talk about refinancing.”
The majority of the previous debt was acquired in 2003 and 2006. Learning about last year’s debt was yet another blow to the city’s finances, but then the city received what amounted to a stay of execution from the governor’s office.
Generally, the city of Clay receives an average of ,000 from the State of Alabama Trust Fund. This year, Gov. Robert Bentley shuffled some accounts, increasing the amount of money in the Trust’s general fund. Clay would now receive around 0,000.
The Clay City Council voted Monday to use that money to pay off the majority of the general fund debt accrued last year, in order to free up other moneys. Without this windfall, the city would have to pay in excess of ,000 per year in order to replenish its general fund within the allotted time.
Webster also said the city’s other finances were improving, thanks to keeping an eye on fiscal responsibility.
“We’re falling right along with our budget,” Webster said. “Ronnie is keeping a close eye on it.”