Meridian Audit Results

Meridian, Miss.

The city of Meridian has received its report card, and officials say it's good. Results of the city's annual audit were revealed Tuesday. They showed significant gains in most areas.

The audit reveals that for last year the general fund budget was up by more than 17%. In all, this amounted to an additional $1.7 million.

"We're coming out of the recession and things are good in Meridian," says certified public accountant, Paul Breazeale. He works for the Jackson based firm that conducted the audit.

"In Mississippi you're in the top five cities in terms of financial reporting and in terms of financial strength, you're right up close to the top," says Breazeale.

With a bond rating that almost rivals that of the state, Breazeale credits the good report to the increase in sales tax revenues and decrease in debt and expenditures.

"Compared to some other cities and other counties in the state of Mississippi we can pay our bills," says city council president, George Thomas. "We're not at a point where we have to cut things. We can add a few things, but I don't think that you'll see any drastic changes."

Thomas says this is despite the fact that the city has some reserve funds.

"Basically, it's just a little less than a three month operating cushion and that's a good thing because you never know when a hurricane could hit, or you need money for unanticipated expenditures," says Ed Skipper, who is the chief financial officer for the city of Meridian.

Heading into the future the city of Meridian is expected to continue coming out of the recession. However, the auditor has some advice for city council members as they prepare their financial strategy. That advice is: "If it's not broken, don't fix it!"

Last year sales tax revenues for Meridian were back up to the level they were after Hurricane Katrina hit. That 2.7% increase last year amounted to an extra $400,000 for the city.