Audit reports good financial standing

ajames@newsobserver.comJanuary 11, 2014 

— An audit of fiscal 2012-13 shows the town is in good financial health.

According to the audit, by an outside accounting firm, the town maintained its Aa3 bond rating with Moody’s Investor Service and its AA rating from Standard & Poor’s. Those ratings, while not the highest possible, mean Clayton is a good credit risk and can borrow money cheaply.

Town Manager Steve Biggs said he was pleased with the audit but he would like to see the town improve its bond ratings next year. “We want to continue to improve the key indicators and ratios that the rating agencies look at when evaluating our credit worthiness,” he said. “The better they view us, the more affordably we can borrow to support future capital projects such as new parkland or park development.”

Since the recession, Clayton has focused on debt management and is doing well at paying its debts, including the money borrowed for the town’s law-enforcement center.

As of the close of the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013, the town’s various funds had a combined ending balance of $9.15 million, down $46,359 from the year before. Some of that money, about $2 million, is committed to specific uses, but the rest is available to spend as the town sees fit.

Outside of government, Clayton’s downtown had a net gain of five businesses and 21 jobs between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2012. The private sector spent $500,000 on downtown improvements last fiscal year; the town spent $100,000.

Over the past seven years 31 downtown properties have undergone facade makeovers, 22 with help from a town grant program. Eleven buildings have expanded, and four have undergone extensive renovations. In all, downtown has added 172 jobs in the last seven year.

In addition to building the law-enforcement center, the town in recent years has resurfaced roughly 8.5 miles of street, laid about six miles of sidewalks and replaced aging water and sewer lines.

At a recent meeting, council members said they were pleased with the audit’s findings, especially the dollars available for future projects.

James: 919-553-7234

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