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MFPD honored for financial reporting

For the sixth consecutive year, the Mehlville Fire Protection District has received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

The Mehlville Fire Protection District was honored by the Government Finance Officers Association for its fiscal 2002 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

Representatives of Hochschild, Bloom & Co. said that the district is in the process of submitting its 2003 report for qualification of the next year's certificate. To receive the certificate, the district must publish an easily readable and efficiently organized Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, whose contents conform to both U.S. generally accepted accounting principles and applicable legal requirements.

The district's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the year ending Dec. 31, 2003, recently was presented to the Board of Directors. The report includes an audit performed by Hochschild, Bloom & Co. that gave the district an "unqualified opinion," which is the best opinion that can be given.

Robert Offerman of Hochschild, Bloom & Co. presented the audit July 2 to Chairman Tom O'Driscoll, Treasurer Dan Ottoline and Secretary David Gralike. The statements are fairly presented, in all material respects, and in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principals, he said.

"Your books are in good order,'' Offerman said. "I think the district is doing a good job with your report.''

The financial report includes the district management's representations concerning the finances of the district.

District Comptroller Jeff Geisler included a letter to Chief Ray Haddock and members of the board outlining the district's economic condition and outlook

"The true cash value, or market value, of the district grew 5.8 percent,'' Geisler wrote, "to $1,842,290,688 for the property tax year 2003.''

He added that a variety of economic indicators are reflecting strong growth trends for the area including job growth, taxable sales, personal income, new businesses and manufacturing, and that the "district believes there is no reason to doubt the outlook will continue to be acceptable and will allow for those necessary services to at least maintain our current status in the future.''

One of the financial highlights in the report is the fact that the fire protection district's total net assets increased by $1.77 million as a result of the year's operations.

The majority of the increase is attributable to billing non-residents for ambulance transportation and decreased personnel costs resulting from a reduction of overtime and staff positions.

In addition, the report highlights that the district's assets exceeded its liabilities at the end of 2003 by $21,982,914. Of this amount, $5,349,718 represents the district's investment in capital assets, net of related debt, and the balance of $16,633,196 will be used to meet the district's ongoing obligations to residents and creditors.

As of the end of 2003, the district's governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of $16,798,189, an increase of $1,462,069 in comparison with the prior year, according to the report. The majority of the amount — $14,199,137 — is unreserved and undesignated.

The unreserved fund balance for the general fund was $9,196,866, or 92 percent of general fund expenditures and other financing uses. This fund balance is provided from property taxes both received and earned at Dec. 31, 2003, and will be used to finance the next 11 months of operation, according to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

The report also noted that as of Dec. 31, 2003, the unreserved fund balance of the ambulance fund was $3,626,774, or 76 percent of ambulance fund expenditures and other financing uses. Charges for the services will finance the balance of operations during 2004.

During his presentation, Offerman said that the district's total revenues were $28,273,000, while expenditures were $20,153,000, an excess of $8.12 million in revenue. This includes the general fund, ambulance fund, pension revenue fund, alarm fund, South County Fire Alarm, and the pension trust fund. With $8.63 million in general fixed assets, net of depreciation, added and long-term debt, including $3.28 million for certificates of participation and a $2.753 million debt for the sick leave fund, the district's total equity is $58,594,000.

The basic financial statements in the report, which use the Governmental Accounting Standards Board 34 accrual method of reporting instead of the former modified-accrual method of reporting, show assets of $31,039,733 in assets. This is comprised of about $4 million in cash, $7 million in investments, property taxes receivable at about $10.6 million, EMS billing of $720,861 and other receivables of about $4,000. Capital assets included are land at about $423,000, and other capital assets at $8.2 million.

The district's liabilities total $9.057 million, including $63,000 in accounts payable, $31,000 accrued interest, $423,000 accrued salaries, benefits and payroll taxes, $1.308 million in accrued vacation payable, $106,000 in deferred revenue, which is dispatching billings that South County Fire Alarm makes to districts other than Mehlville. Non-current liabilities, which are the COPs and the sick leave, total about $6 million. Net assets total about $22 million.

The report also included information about the district's employee retirement benefit plan, in which the district is required to contribute annually an actuarially determined amount. Employees do not contribute to the pension plan. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2003, the district's total payroll was $10,317,307. The minimum contribution requirement for 2003 was $1,732,453 or 18.32 percent of covered payroll for the district, the report states.

The district also administers the Mehlville Fire Protection District Money Purchase Plan, a defined contribution retirement plan, for substantially all employees in accordance with Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a). The district contributed $69,000, or $20 per pay period up to $520 per year for each participant in 2003.

Board members' fees and related expenses also were outlined in the report, showing a total of $12,204 paid to them. Fees paid to O'Driscoll totaled $4,600; Ottoline, $4,300; Gralike, $1,733, and former board Treasurer Jim Abkemeier, $1,571.

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