City audit for 2013 shows $400K surplus

An audit report of 2013 city finances presented Wednesday to City Council showed an operational surplus of about $400,000.

The Young Oakes Brown & Company audit report showed the surplus in the form of an increase in the unreserved fund balance from $1.3 million to $1.7 million, as explained in a report presented by Dan Bradley of Young Oakes Brown & Company.

The surplus represented a better-than-expected result, as the 2013 budget had projected a break-even year, according to city Finance Director Omar Strohm.

The surplus also represented a success for the city’s Act 47 recovery plan, Strohm acknowledged. Among benefits of the plan was the release of the state cap on earned income tax for general purposes.

The plan nudged up the rate and added a general commuter tax – an earned income tax for non-city residents working in Altoona.

Without that revenue, it would have been “a complete turnaround,” according to Strohm.

The entry into Act 47 also eliminated the 30-mill cap on property tax for general purposes that applied at the

time – but the city didn’t raise that tax.

A recent change in the Third Class City

Code raised that cap to 35 mills.

The caps on earned income and property tax would go away if city voters this fall accept a home rule charter being drawn up by a Government Study Commission – although it would not allow a commuter tax.

The city accepted the recovery plan at the end of 2012, having begun talking about entry into Act 47 about a year earlier.