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San Marcos financials pass auditor’s muster

SAN MARCOS — San Marcos finished the 2013-14 fiscal year with more than a $5.1 million surplus, auditors confirmed after signing off on the city’s financial report.

The City Council on Tuesday received the annual financial report, which details the state of all of the city’s funding sources, including its operating budget and funds that pay for services such as sewers and utilities.

The city previously estimated that it would have a $5.1 million general fund surplus largely as a result of a $1.3 million tax settlement with a rock quarry that the city said did not pay sales taxes for over seven years.

The city collected $2.7 million more in revenue and spent $2.8 million than it expected during the year. The savings in expenses was the result of attrition of staff and contract services.

The financial report paints a cautiously optimistic picture of the city’s finances, which it said is continuing to slowly recover from the Great Recession. Sales tax revenue, the lifeblood of a city’s basic services, has grown moderately, which the city has seen a drop in revenue it receives from renting city office and properties.

The city will also likely see a drop in building permit revenue from this year, the report states, but as a result of developers of the major Palomar Station project pulling all of the building permits during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014 although work still continues on the project this year, and will likely increase this year.

City officials have already earmarked $1 million of the savings toward the potential bill for fire services rendered during last year’s Cocos fire. Officials estimated the firefighting costs would be close to $10 million, with federal emergency funds footing most of the bill.

The city’s contract auditing firm, Rogers, Anderson, Malody and Scott LLP, signed off on the financial report, essentially clearing it of being accurate on its face. Representatives of the firm gave a brief presentation at Tuesday’s council meeting, the only new business on the council calendar.