Ridgely audit hits top rank
RIDGELY — The Town of Ridgely received the top ranking for its fiscal year 2016 audit by TGM Grpup, LLC as the town continues to increase its positive fund balance.
The Unmodified Opinion ranking was the sixth-straight year the town achieved the ranking. During the period, the town took a $280,000 general fund balance deficit and increased it to a now positive $365,000 fund balance.
The town has managed to achieve the budgetary success without straying far from the constant yield tax rate the council receives each year that presents a tax rate to receive the same revenue as the year before. In FY14, the constant yield jumped the town’s tax rate from 48 cents per $100 of assessed value to 58 cents per $100 of assessed value. The jump occurred after the town got reassessed, but the council has kept the tax rate within a penny in the years since.
“The constant yield is something we never want to go over,” said Ridgely Town Commissioner Anthony Casey. “It isn’t a benchmark because we look at how much we need to keep the town running. If we only need less than the constant yield, we can lower the rate to meet that year’s need. The council feels strongly we don’t want to spend more than the constant yield suggests if we don’t have to.”
Though the town has
increased its positive fund balance, the town continues to spend money to keep from falling behind in the future. The town recently purchased a new fleet of vehicles for the Ridgely Police Department. The town had money available because they put funds in an account that was earmarked for future vehicle purchases.
“We had a really good plan where we put money into an account and earmark it for new vehicles,” Casey said. “We were spending more money on maintenance for used vehicles than what we would spend on a new vehicle.
“Now, we have a rotation of once they get to a certain mileage or certain year, we will trade them in and buy a new vehicle,” he said. “That way we are not worried about the maintenance of these things.”
Ridgely Town Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Berkey said much of the funds come from impact fees collected by the town.
“Anytime impact fees are collected, that goes into our local government investment fund for that purpose,” she said. “We have been working very hard at future capital budgeting so we can get the items that are needed without having to take on major debt.”
Casey said the Ridgely town staf f does an excellent job at budgeting and looking ahead to keep the town within its means.
“One of the best thing the staff does is when they do budgets, they do not put in things like fees — grass cutting fees, impact fees and so on,” he said. “They make those line items zero in the budget because those are things you don’t know what is going to come it. Whatever does come in, we are able to use that money and do these special projects later on.”
The town also recently began four road projects and repainted the water tower. In March, the town will be putting in new playground equipment and rubber mats at Martin Sutton Park.
“We will go out and spend money on things that will help us in the future,” Casey said. “We are so customer service-oriented here that we have the same customers day in and day out. Those services we try to provide for them, we try to do it better, faster and more efficiently to save us money.”
Ridgely has seen a lot of success in 2016, with record crowds at the 37th annual Ridgely Lions Club Strawberry Festival and the sixth annual Ridgely Pharmacy and Ice Cream Parlor Car and Motorcycle Show featuring NASCAR legend Richard Petty.
The town continues to reinvest with donations to its local organizations.
The town recently partnered with the Ridgely Volunteer Fire Department to create and fund a golf tournament. The money raised was used by the fire department for its new fire stations.
Berkey said the town donated $2,000 to a local Boy Scout for a camping trip to Arizona. She said the town also is making two $5,000 donations to the Ridgely Historical Society for the town’s 150th Anniversary celebration. She said the town has increased its funding to the Caroline County Chamber of Commerce, and has sustained funding to Caroline County Economic Development.
“The positive fund balance has certainly helped us,” Casey said. “We have received many requests from local organizations for donations like Little League, soccer, lacrosse, and I don’t think we have turned any down that have come to our meetings and made donation requests.
“These local organizations and groups are the life-blood of our community, and we are very happy to help them out.”