Auditor’s report confirmed at City Commission, properties ordinance passes

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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Thursday’s are not a typical meeting time for the Winchester City Commission. 

However, Thursday, Feb.29,  drew a special meeting that made an exception to such familiarity. 

During a meeting of the Winchester City Commission at City Hall, the City of Winchester’s Audited Basic Financial Statements including supplementary data and independent auditor’s reports for the year ended June 30, 2023 was approved, as was the first reading of an ordinance related to abandoned urban property and blighted urban property was approved. 

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For the first item, certified public accountant Tom Sparks of Summers, McCrary & Sparks, P.S.C. in Lexington spoke before the Commission. 

Covering a report of over 100 pages, he spoke of a particular statement on page 10 of the report. 

“In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly,” Sparks said, reading from the text before clarifying further. “That means it’s a clean report. We do not find any evidence of gross representation of any of the financial statement numbers. So, that’s the cleanest reporting an auditor can issue.” 

Speaking in deeper detail, Sparks covered several sections such as analysis of government funds, pension trust and liabilities, and compliance with bond ordinances for Winchester Municipal Utilities (WMU). 

Accordingly, the bonds and a Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA) loan – which was found to help fund construction for local public works projects – require WMU to establish and maintain certain reserves and restricted access. 

As mentioned on page 63 of the report, WMU is in compliance with such requirements. 

After a motion by Commissioner Kenny Book that was seconded by Commissioner Shannon Cox, the report was approved unanimously. 

Also, the city commission addressed an ordinance establishing an abandoned urban property and blighted urban property in the City of Winchester Code or Ordinances classified as a separate class of real property. 

Specifically, the rate of ad valorem taxation levied upon Abandoned Urban Properties is $1.50 for each $100 of value. 

The rate will be associated with the deed to the property, rather than an individual owner. 

“Once the lien is filed, it’s like any other lien. It follows the property until it’s satisfied.” clarified Winchester City Attorney Bill Dykeman. 

After a motion was made by Commissioner Cox and seconded by Commissioner Book, the first reading of the ordinance was approved unanimously. 

Expectations are that a second reading of the ordinance will take place at an upcoming meeting. 

“Hopefully, it is a step in the right direction to do what we need to do with not only downtown, but throughout the city as well,” said City Manager Mike Flynn.