Society Hill experiencing ‘cash-flow situation’
By Melissa Rollins, Editor, email@example.com
According to Mayor Tommy Bradshaw, Society Hill is in financial trouble. Bradshaw shared the news Tuesday night at the monthly town council meeting after councilwoman Deborah Harrell asked him to explain the meeting minutes from a called meeting January 25. Harrell was absent from the meeting due to an illness.
“We looked at our budget mid-year and our collections dropped from what we expected to be getting in,” Bradshaw said. “Our revenue was down and our expenses remained the same. At mid-year, we found ourselves in a cash-flow situation where we had hardly any money in the bank to cover payroll.”
Bradshaw said that the town had taken on two no-interest loans from the Catfish Festival and Train Depot accounts.
“We had to call for a special meeting and it was brought to our attention that we could borrow money from the Catfish Festival for $12,500 and $5,000 from the Depot account to carry us through to June,” Bradshaw said. “Of course there would be no finance charge and no application charge for start up that we would have with a bank. So we had to do that for purposes of making it through. We fell on hard times with the revenue.”
The cash-flow problem will affect the town’s ability to employee several workers.
“We decided that we had to make some cuts per our accountant,” Bradshaw said. “So we did reduce Lieutenant Gillespie from a full-time employee to part-time employee, from 40 hours to 29 hours. We found ourselves unable to pay Eugenia Peterson and Shawn Hawes. We did what we had do; we didn’t have a choice. We had strong language from our accountant that that’s what we needed to do, so that’s what we did.”
The loans will help keep the town in the black but must be repaid no later than July 2018, according to the January 25 meeting minutes.
“Now you can see if you look at our spreadsheet it says that we basically have $24,000 in the bank now; you have to factor into that that $17,500 is a loan to us,” Bradshaw said. “And of course, we have other expenses that are coming the first of February so we are treading water financially. We didn’t want to have a bank draft for payroll or write a check that would bounce. That is the issue we found ourselves in.”
Harrell said that she understands why the decision was made to take the loans but she thinks the issue could have been avoided had the town not gotten ahead of themselves when they recovered from the debt left by the previous administration.
“I understand everything you’re saying and that goes back to also when we were out of debt, when we cut that debt really down to where we were making all of our assessment payments on time and we were able to make the full amount of the payment,” Harrell said. “But we also went and brought on, and don’t take this the wrong way, we brought on two part-time employees and we also gave some raises. I think that was the decision, probably, that got us (here). We also hired another part-time police officer. It looked good on paper and everything but we were talking about building up a reserve and I think that’s what we should have done, built up that reserve, before we made the decision to bring on three more part-time workers and giving raises. Now we are back to where we’ve got to make those cuts again.”