Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

Local News

December 11, 2012

Kokomo finances continue to improve

Total debt has dropped by $14.5M

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight has unveiled his latest spreadsheet on the city’s financial position, with the numbers showing a $14.5 million drop in total indebtedness since he took office five years ago.

During the same period, the city has seen an almost exactly corresponding increase in its cash position as cuts to the city’s payroll, flat budgets and the emerging post-recession economy have combined to replenish depleted city coffers.

Randy Morris, Kokomo city controller, said efficiency measures, combined with increased use of in-house labor for projects, have helped. Morris credited the Kokomo Common Council for supporting the mayor’s belt-tightening initiatives.

“The council has just been very supportive of our efforts,” Morris said. “Through these recessionary times, they’ve given us the ability to make the necessary changes.”

Shortly after former Kokomo Mayor Matt McKillip took office in 2004, an accounting error and a new state limit on local property taxes caused a sharp drop in city revenues.

The artificial limit on revenues was soon corrected, but the one-year drop created a deficit which the city didn’t climb out of until Goodnight’s first year.

To gauge how the city has been doing, Goodnight looks at the city’s cash position each Nov. 30.

That date represents an annual low point in the city’s cash flow, a time just before the city receives its second biannual installment of property tax revenue, commonly referred to as a tax “draw.” Local governments usually receive tax draws in late spring/early summer and again near the end of the year.

On Nov. 30, 2007, the city was nearly $5.2 million in the red in the funds controlled by the Kokomo Common Council. To keep the city operating, the city had to borrow from other funds and pay those funds back when the tax draw finally arrived.

Five years later, on the same date, the city was running a $9.8 million balance in the same council-controlled funds, the largest of which, the city’s general fund, is used to pay the salaries and benefits for city employees.

An increase in tax revenues, including back taxes owed by key industries, have helped stabilize the city’s finances. And there haven’t been any wild variations in revenues since the recession-marred year of 2009, when property tax collections fell by almost $5 million.

But city officials also point to decreases in the number of full-time city employees, and efficiency measures like picking up trash on one side of the street (which requires fewer trash trucks and less manpower).

From a maximum of 521 full-time employees in 2007 to about 436 currently, the city, according to Morris and Goodnight, is doing more with less.

The city also is freed from the obligation of paying about $700,000 a year in debt service for the Kokomo Aquatic Center, which was paid off in 2010. The city council saved another $1 million annually by shutting down the former Kokomo Early Learning Center.

Today, the city has no general obligation debt and no outstanding leases. All of the city’s remaining debt is tied to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, which was fully renovated over the past two decades.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • 2nd UPDATE: 1 found dead after apartment fire near Purdue

    Authorities say one person was found dead after a fire that badly burned an apartment building where many Purdue University students live near the campus.

    April 24, 2014

  • Art FOr the Sky Wallace School hosts Indiana’s first Art for the Sky project From the ground, the crowd gathered at Wallace School of Integrated Arts on Wednesday seemed like nothing more than people in colorful T-shirts standing in odd groups. But with "sky sight," the formation took on the large-scale image of a paint palet

    April 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • City acquires more right of way for Nickel Plate Trail extension The city of Kokomo acquired another piece of land for the construction of the Nickel Plate Trail in its quest to extend the trail from county line to county line. The city's Board of Public Works and Safety approved a recreational trail easement that

    April 24, 2014

  • County residents speak out against wind energy As debate continues over the construction of wind turbines in Howard County and its neighbors, residents are turning up the heat on officials in an effort to stop development in the southeast corner of the county. Concerned citizens spoke out during

    April 24, 2014

  • Driver in fatal hit and run on Center Road pleads guilty The driver of a truck involved in an August hit-and-run crash that killed a 13-year-old boy could get as much as seven years behind bars if a judge accepts his plea. Randall K. Rector, 58, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crash resulting in d

    April 24, 2014

  • TUFF CURBS Locals upset over Markland curb plans Plans to eliminate left-hand turns along the city's busiest business corridor caused a major uproar Tuesday. Business owners, city officials and state legislators spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday on the phone protesting to Indiana Department of Tr

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police reports Howard County Arrests Tuesday, 4:34 p.m., police arrested Alisha Whitt, 27, 500 block of South Washington Street, at that residence, on a parole violation. Tuesday, 6:21 p.m., police arrested a 15-year-old male in the 400 block of West Sycamore Stree

    April 24, 2014

  • Eastern to move forward with $2M renovation to jr./sr. high school GREENTOWN -- Renovations at Eastern Sr./Jr. High will continue this summer after the board of education on Tuesday approved spending another $2 million on the final stage of upgrades. There will be no net impact on taxes, which has been a priority fo

    April 24, 2014

  • Volunteers still helping tornado victims Back in March, volunteers set out to inform tornado-ravaged neighborhoods there is still help out there. The small group of volunteers, part of the Long Term Recovery Team, took to the streets of the worst areas hit by the Nov. 17 tornadoes, passing

    April 24, 2014

  • NWS - KT042414 - Coats Coats plans to join GOP senators calling for Russian sanctions INDIANAPOLIS -- U.S. Sen. Dan Coats wants tougher sanctions against Russia for its growing involvement in Ukraine, despite signs of wariness back home. "If there is a bully in the schoolyard, the sooner you realize that and stand up to that bully, th

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries