Auditor: City government financially sound |

Auditor: City government financially sound

Carolyn SackariasonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN The rich get richer, and as a result, so does the government.It was a successful year for the city in 2006 from a financial perspective. Consumption-based tax revenue jumped from $32,089,433 in 2005 to $35,797,329 in 2006 – an 11.6 percent increase. Those revenue sources include sales, lodging and real estate transfer taxes.Over the past five years, growth in consumption-tax revenue has increased at an average rate of 19.5 percent, with real estate transfer taxes outpacing sales and lodging tax growth by a 5-to-1 margin.That’s according to City Hall’s finance director, Paul Menter, who on Tuesday presented the city’s annual financial report for 2006 to the City Council.Menter said the two primary reasons for the city’s glowing financial picture are strong and sustained growth in the real estate and retail economies, and disciplined budgetary control in response to growth pressures.Those actions have earned the city of Aspen a credit rating upgrade from Moody’s Investor Services. As a result, Aspen is the first of its size and class to receive a sales tax revenue rating in the AA category, and the first city to receive an AA rating on its general obligation debt.Paul Backes, a CPA for McMahan and Associates LLC and an auditor of the city’s finances, said Aspen government is financially sound.”You have a good financial position,” he told City Council. “You as a council don’t need to worry about the financial health of the city.”The city in 2006 experienced a net asset growth of $22.3 million, or 10.4 percent.Governmental funds increased an aggregate $17.5 million, which is a 10 percent increase from $175.3 million to $192.8 million in net assets. Business-type funds increased in the aggregate $4.75 million, from $39.3 million to $44.1 million. Business-type funds include water and electric utility operations, transportation and parking, golf and affordable housing.Traditionally, the largest portion of any municipality’s investments is in its capital assets, which include land, buildings, equipment, machinery and specialized tools. The city’s capital assets account for 92.1 percent, or $218,278,955, of its total net assets, which amount to $236,889,716.Backes said that since his firm started auditing the city of Aspen in 2000, staff has greatly improved its bookkeeping.”Your financial reporting has come a long ways in the past three years,” he said.Carolyn Sackariason can be reached at