Ridgely au­dit hits top rank

Times-Record - - Front Page - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

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.”

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