Bethlehem audit shows city with surplus from 2016

October 6, 2017 by  

A draft audit provided to City Council revealed good news for Bethlehem – $3.2m left over from the 2016 budget thanks to a slight increase in fees and taxes and an upturn in the economy.

The sum included the extra $865,000 garnered from a 2.2% increase in real estate tax and $292,070 from the city’s recycling increase. Additionally, an improving economy translated to more sales and better wages, which in turn meant higher mercantile and earned income taxes.

Bethlehem also collected more on delinquent invoices, among which were amusement taxes, while also keeping a tight rein on expenses and shelling out less money for professional services and medical expenses.

The Government Finance Officers Association’s recommendation for a municipality’s unassigned fund balance, an indicator of a community’s fiscal health, has been met in Bethlehem. The 2016 surplus has boosted the balance of the unassigned fund here to $12.5m, which is about 18 percent of Bethlehem’s spending in 2016.

Seven years ago, the city’s budget slipped into the red and a financial plan was developed to ensure the city’s ledger would return to the black and stay there. The plan was for municipal employment to be cut and taxes and fees raised. The plan obviously worked, as this year’s surplus required no tax increase in 2017.

By November, Mayor Robert Donchez should have his proposed 2018 budget ready for the printing company and then dispersal to all interested parties.