Meridian Star


April 22, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

MERIDIAN — 'We are thrilled'

    The City of Meridian received its 2011 annual report from our independent auditor, Breazeale, Saunders, and O’Neil, on April 17, 2012.

    We are thrilled with the news from our independent auditor.

    During these tough economic times, the worst economy since the Great Depression, this is the best news we could get.

    While hundreds of cities around the nation still face bankruptcy, the City of Meridian took on the big problems, faced the hard choices, and made the tough decisions.

    I want to be clear — it was not easy to get where we are, and we still have a ways to go, but Meridian is on its way to a healthy recovery. We have cut expenses, held the line on taxes, while still encouraging growth.

    For FY 2011, sales tax revenue was up nearly one and a half percent, expenses for long-term liabilities —which includes general obligation bonds, special bonds, and capital improvements — held steady or decreased, and the general fund balance improved to a much more sustainable level.

    We no longer face that day of reckoning that looms over many other cities. Referencing potential city bankruptcies, Business Insider reported — and I quote — “The most challenging period is probably about 2013 to 2015. Literally, there could be hundreds of jurisdictions."

    In Meridian, we don’t fear the years 2013 to 2015. We welcome them. We embrace them. With our relationships in city, county, and state government — and with walls of division coming down every day — they could be our best years yet.

    Those years will be what we make them.

    This has been a bi-partisan government in Meridian, with bi-partisan decisions.

    On the significant decisions of the past three years — garbage service, bonds for waste water and paving, public safety policy — the decisions made have been overwhelmingly across the aisle.

    We left egos at the door, sat around the table, worked hard for the citizens of Meridian, and returned to a government of fundamental services.

    The one place you can see how well a government is working is in a budget. It is no different than how you would evaluate the condition of a business or a home. The budget is where the rubber meets the road.

    For nearly three years, the Office of the Mayor and the Meridian City Council have all worked hard together to turn this ship around.

    We have made some tough decisions, and today we are seeing the reasons for those decisions.

    Thank you, members of the City Council, for your cooperation and teamwork.

    Thank you citizens of Meridian for staying engaged, for taking a stake in your government, and for holding us accountable. Thank you for your diligence.

    We would put our financials up against any city’s financials in the state. We still have a lot of work in front of us, but we’re headed in the right direction and we’ve got the numbers to prove it.

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