State release findings on Petersburg’s finances

PETERSBURG,Va (WRIC) — Petersburg’s financial woes may be worse than the city initially thought.

The Secretary of Finance for the Commonwealth, Richard Brown, has presented findings from an audit the state completed on the City of Petersburg’s finances. The special meeting was held at the Bus Station in Petersburg Wednesday afternoon.

3237DFB9A93A4F36B4038456523B22B2“We did not come to control, regulate, or mandate anything,” he said. “We came simply to help.”

The 2nd floor room was filled to capacity. Some people had to stand and some sat on the floor as officials revealed what they found after examining  the City of Petersburg’s financial books.

“We had counted a little bit over $18M in existing bills and existing liabilities,” Brown said. That’s $1 million more in debt than officials released roughly a month ago.

So, what now for the City of Petersburg? State Officials recommended city leaders try not to create additional debt unless absolutely necessary. They also suggest officials create a plan to restructure immediately. They suggest the plan include the following:

  • Amendment of 2017 budget
  • Develop a structured budget
  • Limit budget amendments
  • Centralize expenditure controls and approvals
  • Report expenditures and revenues to council monthly
  • Pursue short-term financing to ease immediate budget crunch
  • Review and change relative policies

The State found that the City of Petersburg’s money problems date as far back as 2012 where spending exceeded revenues. Liquidity and cash flow challenges, as well as financial  management, and reporting issues have also contributed to the imbalances.

Residents say they were pleased to hear that the State’s technical assistance team was successful in helping the city meet a $4.5M tax obligation in June.

Now, council will deliberate over all of the report findings and decide on a plan to move forward.

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