By Wesley Walter, Managing editor, and Cady Inabinett, Editor in chief
The Montevallo City Council had a busy November, receiving an audit report, hearing committee reports and discussing measures related to parking and business licenses at the two meetings the group held during the month.
During the Nov. 13 meeting, council members were given information on the audit conducted on the City of Montevallo during the 2022-23 fiscal year.
The audit was conducted by DeLoach, Barber & Caspers, P.C., a public accounting firm based in Pelham.
Wayne Barber, an accountant and director at the firm, gave the report on the audit to the council.
Barber opened his report saying, “I usually lead this discussion off by making a little bit of a joke about the mayor’s inviting me to speak for two to three hours on—on the financial audit.”
“Unfortunately, y’all have heard the joke a time or two now but the reason I do that is because I could easily talk about the financial statement that long,” said Barber. “Government financial audits are pretty complicated material and you got about a hundred-page document in front of you, that obviously, if I talked about everything in there, I would be here all night and nobody wants to listen to me talk that long.”
The goal of the audit conducted on the city was to determine whether Montevallo’s financial statements were presented fairly and in accordance with accounting standards.
Barber went over a document describing the main points of the audit with the council members.
Barber read from the opinions in the document, saying, “In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly in all material respects.”
“What that means, in laymen’s terms, is that you have an unmodified opinion, and that’s exactly what you want to hear. That’s what your readers want to hear, that’s what the insurance and the bankers and the grant people want to hear. It means that you followed the accounting rules,” Barber explained.
However, Barber added that this opinion does not mean the city has a perfect set of internal financial controls, nor does it rule out the possibility of minor immaterial fraud or misstatements.
From the audit report, Barber pointed out that the city’s net worth was $19,000,000. Additionally, the city raised $4,058,000 in sales tax, $445,000 in simplified seller use tax and $509,000 in property tax.
Going over expenditures, he said the city spent $1,800,000 on police services, $624,000 on fire and rescue services and $7,008,000 in total expenditures, leaving $1,843,000 left over.
Sales tax was also increased by 1% during the fiscal year, with Barber reporting 90% went to the Montevallo Development Cooperative District, 1% in the city’s reserve fund and other commitments going to various city projects.
Barber also presented an overview of the city budget.
According to Barber, the council budgeted $7,231,000 in revenue and ended up bringing in $8,104,000.
Barber said the council budgeted $7,183,000 in city expenditures and spent $7,008,000.
Montevallo resident Bobby C.P. Pearson asked the council whether audit information could be found on the City of Montevallo webpage. City clerk Steve Gilbert replied that the audit’s financial statement would be published on the webpage once accepted, and that the audit itself could be requested as a public record.
The council voted unanimously to accept the audit, with Council member Sonya Swords absent from the meeting.
As the meeting transitioned to department reports, Montevallo Police Chief Jeremy Littleton reported that the department had a total of 599 total phone calls, 75 cases, 15 traffic accidents, 229 traffic stops, 62 traffic citations, 26 arrests, two burglaries, five domestic calls, one assault and two fraud or forgery charges.
Littleton also reported that the department made an arrest for car break-ins in the Hidden Forest neighborhood.
Councilmember Rev. Kenneth Dukes said the Montevallo Historical Commission met the Tuesday prior to the council meeting and are looking at more potential places for historic markers after the council approved two sites at their Oct. 23 meeting.
Executive Director of the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce Adele Nelson prepped the council for the Montevallo Christmas Parade, held on Nov. 30. Part of the festivities were the annual Holiday Window Decorating Contest, hosted by Montevallo Main Street. The contest consists of Main Street businesses invited to decorate their windows and student groups from the University of Montevallo and Montevallo K-12 schools invited to decorate empty store fronts.
The window decorating contest had its winners announced Nov. 30, with Montevallo Presbyterian Church Youth winning the student group category and Provenance Church winning the business category.
Approval of an ABC license for Indigo Café, a restaurant set to open at 629 Main St., was put on hold until the meeting on Nov. 27 due to the ABC board not responding as of the council meeting. At the Nov. 27 meeting, the motion passed unanimously.
Montevallo Mayor Rusty Nix recognized councilmember Leila Mitchell for completing her Certificate of Municipal Office, received by completing 40 credit hours of training in municipal government courses.
The council voted to approve an ordinance annexing approximately 6 acres of undeveloped property on Spring Creek Road into the City of Montevallo Corporate Limits.
The council voted to reschedule the Montevallo City Council Meeting on Dec. 25 to Dec. 27, in observance of Christmas Day.
The council’s Nov. 27 meeting featured a discussion about University of Montevallo faculty and staff parking on city streets, as the council had the first reading of an ordinance that would allocate parking spaces along city streets near university-owned properties for university faculty and staff during working hours on weekdays.
The proposed parking spaces would be near the Global Community and Outreach Building on Valley Street and the Sharp House on Bloch Street. The university already has some spaces allocated for faculty and staff for university buildings along Oak Street.
Council member Martha Eisenberg raised concerns that these changes could affect parking for nearby businesses, such as the Main Street Tavern, saying, “Well, I just wanted to make sure it didn’t affect the Tavern, any parking there for lunch.”
Gilbert responded to Eisenberg’s concerns by saying that, while there would be some changes to parking near Main Street Tavern, many of those spaces are already, “being taken up by students and others currently, so I don’t see that as causing the Tavern any problems because most of their clients are parking either in the back parking lot or in the Trustmark.”
The ordinance will be voted on at the council’s Dec. 8 meeting.
The council also discussed and voted to extend a moratorium for new business licenses for 60 days, lasting until Feb. 12. Nix said the extension of the moratorium is meant to allow the city to hear back from legal counsel about an issue.
Council member David King spoke against extending the moratorium, saying, “Many of the businesses on this moratorium have the potential to bring tax revenue to this community.”
King, a local business owner, ultimately abstained from the vote to avoid creating a conflict of interest, saying, “For the record, I will be abstaining from the vote because I have a business license that falls under this category. It could be argued that I would be benefitted by extending it. But I’m recommending to you that you do not.”
In addition to voting on this measure, the council voted to approve the Shelby County NAACP’s permit request for their annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day March. The march, which will be held on Jan. 15, will take place along Main Street.
The next city council meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at City Hall and livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page.