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City sails through financial audit
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The city of Ceres has earned another unqualified opinion during an audit of its 2011-12 books.

Last week the Ceres City Council received the audited financial report performed by JJACPA, Inc., and learned that the city Finance Department received the "highest or best opinion that an auditor can give," said Deputy Finance Director Suzanne Dean.

While the city did well in maintaining great financial records for the fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, the audit takes a look at the current fiscal condition of the city and forecasts the future of revenues.

The city's main income streams are sales taxes and property taxes. The report showed that sales tax revenue was up approximately 12 percent, from fiscal year 2010-11 to 2011-12 attributed to more business activity in Ceres. However, property tax receipts were down by 34 percent due to a decline in property values and foreclosures. Additionally, the elimination of Redevelopment Agencies in California contributed to 19 percent of this decline due to the second installment of tax increment payments being withheld by the county.

General fund revenues were $14.57 million as of June 30, 2012, as compared to $14.27 million as of June 30, 2011.

The general fund balance was at $3.814 million, or 24 percent of expenditures.

As of June 30, 2012, total assets of the city exceeded its liabilities by $136.7 million.

The audit gives an economic outlook that notes that the Valley is lagging behind in the economic recovery and that "there is certainty that economic progress will continue" with the local job market remains anemic and real estate prices showing no signs of lasting recovery. The report notes that "the state's fiscal crisis will impose many barriers to growth with great challenges in collecting additional revenue and the battle over spending cuts promises to be relentless."

The auditors predict that sales tax revenues will remain stable but that property taxes will dip by another 4.5 percent.

The public may view the audit at the city's webpage,