GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 2, 2013

City eyes another $3M in 'free cash'

A memo from city auditor Kenny Costa to City Councilor Bruce Tobey and shared with other councilors over the weekend shows that the city, which rang up $4.8 million in surplus revenues for fiscal 2012, is projecting its fiscal 2013 “free cash” to come in at more than $3 million as well.

Saying he was responding to a formal June 24 request voted by the council for a briefing “after July 15” — and emphasizing that his figures were preliminary and would remain so until certified by the state’s Department of revenue — Costa noted that the city’s General Fund revenues exceeded the amount budgeted for fiscal 2013 by $1.1 million, with “unexpended appropriations” in that year’s budget exceeding another $2 million as well.

“We’re estimating approximately $2,200,000 in unexpended appropriations to the General Fund,” Costa said, referring to money that had been budgeted but not spent during the 2013 fiscal year that ended July 1.

“Most notable,” Costa’s memo reads, “the Charter School state assessment unexpended appropriations totaled approximately $1,724,000, Department of Public Works unexpended appropriations totaled approximately $260,000, Police and Fire Department unexpended appropriations totaled approximately $130,000 and Gloucester Public School Department unexpended appropriations totaled approximately $70,000.”

In an email to Tobey that accompanied his more formal memo, Costa also noted that the city’s wind turbine metering credit, local meal tax revenues, building permit revenues and beach parking dollars all exceeded their budgeted figures, boosting the city’s projected free cash account.

“We collected wind turbine revenues of $101,889 vs. a budget $0 in FY2013,” Costa wrote. “We collected approximately $513,000 in Local Meal Tax Revenue vs. a budget of $400,000. We collected approximately $551,000 in building permit revenue vs. a budget of $412,000.”

City officials had, at the November launch of the wind turbine project, said they anticipated up to $200,000 in revenue from the project during the 2013 fiscal year, with the city’s share of the turbine credits estimated to total some $400,000 annually. Budgeting for the 2013 fiscal year, however, would have been carried out in March-June of 2012, still months before the turbines arrived and were installed in Blackburn Industrial Park.

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