Thursday, September 27, 2007


As Editor, Publisher and Reporter for Wilmer Public Citizen I sometimes make errors and require an apology to our readers: Citizens and Taxpayers of Wilmer you have my heartfelt apology for being late to the budget meeting and missing the opportunity to bring more "Sunshine and Open Government" to the City of Wilmer. I further apologize that our comments and questions we had hoped to raise during the meeting were not made available to you. Here they are:


(Gentlemen I understand I have two minutes for remarks. There are no questions posed in my prepared statement. I appreciate your holding your remarks until the conclusion of my time.)

First off I’d like to say that most people’s eyes glaze over when presented with financial statements – I would hazard a guess that includes most of the folks here as well. I find financial records and budgets highly entertaining for their creativity and bravado.

First is the matter of income items with no actual funds received that are proposed to increase, sometimes greatly, in the coming year. Second is the transparent character of how these items “track” from year to year, floating amounts of nothingness apparently received at the whim of some mythic character.

We see no income received in budget categories totaling (13%) $316,800 of Total Income Budgeted, and that apparently next year we are “only” proposing (11%) $277,100 in these “zero-income” categories. I would bet that is an interesting tale.

Even better let’s look at how we get NEGATIVE Income Received! It looks like refunded money from the income categories “Warrant, Fines-Non Exempt” and “Child Safety Fund” – trivial amounts perhaps, but nonetheless an interesting accounting concept for income categories when you consider we still propose income from one fund.

Moving on to specifics, TAXES underperformed in every category an overall 20% and retain essentially the same budget reduced by $10000. What’s more fun is that we actually budget for Delinquency and for next year Tax Overpayment!

The Licenses and Permits total over achievement in budgeted income shows just how much the budget process reflects a fiscal fantasy rather than reality – just how much can the city “make up” or “squeeze” from Licenses and Fees.

Widely varying performance in Charges Current Services categories indicates highly creative accounting potential, particularly since I personally paid $100 of the $336 received for Garbage Collections of over $87,000 budgeted (can someone say “oops”). Overall, the entire Charges Current Services income group actually received less than 48% of the income budgeted (52% under performance). And guess what! The city proposes $33000 more income from this under performing group next year.

We managed to scrape by with just 10% under performance (about $95000) in Fines and Forfeitures even though we under performed in every budgeted category except Warrant Fees. Of course, the city is projecting an increase next year.

Our Other Revenue category shows a windfall in Insurance Proceeds Received (bless that Library Fire) and $7500 in unbudgeted Library Revenues received – in a year when the library was barely open due to repairs. If it weren’t for those receipts this 50% under performing group would have been under performing by 97%.

Gentlemen, I will not bore you with the details of the Water & Sewer Proposed Budget because “it stinks”. The City runs a monopoly that loses money at the rate of $1.41 per $1 received.

Given that the proposed budget materials are dated August 10 and the Audited financial reports for the 2006 fiscal year were not approved until September 20, there is no audited basis upon which to project future revenues and expenses. This would seem a reasonable standard for fiscal accountability.

Access to the proposed budget information was denied as “not ready yet” in the early morning of Tuesday, September 24. Later that day the information was obtained from another source at City Hall. Denial of public records information is a crime in Texas.

My final comment is that we are petitioning a state audit of current accounting and budget practices based on these observations (and documents obtained earlier).

Joe Aldrich
Wilmer Public Citizen Editor/Publisher

And here is the rest of it:

City of Wilmer Proposed 2008 Budget Questions

Why Manufactured Home permits? Has an ordinance changed?

What’s the difference between “TWC” and “Workers Compensation”?

Why do payroll tax payments(20%) lag wage payments(80%) 4 to 1 (i.e. late)?

Why does the Water Department lose $1.41 for every $1 income?

Where do litigation expenses (municipal trial) get posted?

How much of the $40000 for vehicles replaces the truck smashed by unlicensed city driver?

How do lagging Postage and Printing & Binding Expenses affect billing and collections (i.e. revenue)?

What is the Christmas expense account for?

Where (what accounts) do you post water & sewer billing expenses for preparation and processing?

What’s the difference between “Dallas Water Utilities” “New Dallas Water” expense accounts?

Why is there so little garbage revenue collected?

Why is there no garbage collections income?

Why are audit and accounting expense actuals “upside down”?

Where is the income for Wilmer Pioneer Days posted?

Where is the expense of releasing city employees from work for Pioneer Days posted?