Dear Editor,

I count Dr. Cheri Yecke a good friend and appreciate her kind words, but would like to comment on a few things in her letter in The Daily Citizen of April 3, 2021. 
First, every penny of the eight-year, 1-percent sales tax has been properly accounted for in the city’s financial system as to how much and for what purpose it was used. Those funds are also audited by Arkansas Legislative Audit along with all of the city’s financial records every year. However, there is a common lacking in fund accounting systems such as cities are required by law to use in that they are designed to track money by fiscal year but do not have a good mechanism to track multiyear projects, which make up the bulk of the eight-year tax. The City Council and administration needed a way to track “saving” money from year to year to fund projects and that’s where I stepped in to organize the transactions from the city’s accounting system into a representation of the rows and columns of the original plan that was presented and approved. So what Dr. Yecke mentions was not a lack of oversight but an attempt to make up for a lack of functionality in fund accounting systems in general.

As to the alcohol tax, yes, the expected revenue for 2021 is $47,000. While an increase might bring in more money, the voters rejected the proposal to renew the [1-cent] tax, so the mayor wasn’t asking how to get more money but rather what would the people prefer the city to not spend money on. More to the alcohol tax point, even if the decision was made to raise it, how much could it be raised to bring in enough revenue to solve the problem without people choosing to spend their dining dollars somewhere else, thus reducing this revenue as well as sales tax revenue, not to mention the decline in revenue for the local restaurants?

Regarding the airport miscellaneous expenses being so large, in this case, miscellaneous doesn’t mean insignificant or small, it means different or unusual. The airport miscellaneous category has the accounts that track the purchase of fuel and other items for resale to pilots. The 2021 budget for these five expenditure accounts totals $445,700. The accounts are categorized as miscellaneous because there is not a category in the accounting system for Goods for Resale. There is a category for Sales Proceeds and for the airport, there are accounts for fuel and other items with expected revenue of $652,000 for 2021, giving an expected profit on these sales of $206,300.  

I hope this helps.

Mike Chalenburg

Searcy City Council member

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