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Parkersburg receives fiscal year fiscal year 2021 audit

PARKERSBURG — For the third consecutive year, the City of Parkersburg received an audit with an unmodified opinion, with no findings or corrective action required.

Representatives of Charleston audit firm Suttle & Stalnaker met with the city’s Audit Committee this week to go over their review of the city’s financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.

The unmodified opinion shows that “the auditors agree with the financial statements that we presented for … fiscal ’21,” Finance Director Eric Jiles said.

The audit also included a review of the city’s handling of federal funding and programs. No issues were found there either, Jiles said.

“This unmodified opinion is a direct result of compliance efforts within the city operations,” Mayor Tom Joyce said in a press release issued Thursday. “I applaud Finance Director Eric Jiles for his diligence and commitment to adherence to proper accounting procedures and for the other department heads for their understanding and eagerness to learn and perform their duties in a manner that is both proper and transparent.

“The public trust is something I take very seriously, particularly when it involves our responsibility to properly manage, spend and appropriate public funds,” he said.

In the release, Joyce noted the city’s unfunded liability for police and fire pensions was more than $95 million at the end of fiscal year 2017. That fall, City Council approved the administration’s recommendation to close the plans to new hires, allowing the city to change the way it paid on the plans. Council also doubled the police fee and increased the fire fee by more than 100% to generate money for the increased payments that were required.

In the four years since, the net pension liability has been reduced by more than $37 million to $57,878,414 as of June 30, 2021, the release says. Joyce attributes that to “the proper funding of the plans since closure to include benefit payments and liability amortization, as well as higher investment returns in recent years.”

The city is projecting decreases in pension costs for both departments in the upcoming fiscal year.

“The closing of the original police and fire pension plans remains the most impactful and positive improvement to the city’s financial stability,” Joyce said. “This action will allow for operational and capital improvements for many years to come.”

Council is scheduled to receive the audit report at Tuesday’s meeting, slated for 7:30 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building.

The meeting is being held a week earlier than usual to meet the state deadline to accept the state auditor’s approval of the levy estimate and lay the levy rates. A public hearing will also be held during the meeting to hear and consider any objections to the budget estimate for fiscal year 2022-23.

The only other items on the agenda are mayoral proclamations of April as Fair Housing Month and in support of child advocacy programs and a resolution authorizing American Legion Post 15 to use City Park for its annual Fourth of July celebration.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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