Volume 15, Number 50
The Town of Wake Forest’s annual audit by the financial firm Cherry Bekaert LLP reported on Nov. 16 that the books “were in very good shape,” the numbers in the financial statement are reliable, there was a cash balance of $25 million at the end of the 2015-2016 financial year, and the town collected 98.84 percent of its property taxes.
That last number is the highest in the last 10 years for the town and compares to an average rate of 98.25 percent for towns of its size. “You don’t get much better than that,” CPA Eddie Burke with Cherry Bekaert said.
Also, for the 26th consecutive year the town received the Certificate for Achievement of Excellence in Financial Reporting.
“You should be pretty proud of your finance department,” Burke told the town board, especially praising Financial Operations Manager Antwan Morrison for his help in the audit process.
The town’s property tax base was $4.5 billion on June 30 of this year compared to $4.3 billion the year before. The property tax collections were $23.5 million, $1.2 million more than last year. Town Manager Kip Padgett and Finance Director Aileen Staples always set their budget expectations very conservatively.
The only observations Burke had involved a sampling of purchase orders and payments where there were no purchase orders for three of the five payments. “We have put some procedures in place to make sure it does not happen again,” Staples said. A purchase has to be $1,000 or more to require a purchase order.
“That’s amazing,” Commissioner Jim Thompson said of the purchase order/payment finding, given the size of the town’s budget and all the journal entries required.
The town does have debt, $28.7 million, but it is substantially less than the state-mandated limit of $46.2 million. Also, the percentage of the debt compared to the tax valuation is 1.0225 percent, less than the town’s policy of keeping it under 2 percent or the state’s statute which is 8 percent.
Of the $28.7 million, $25.4 million arefor governmental activities, $0.6 million are for the water and sewer fund and $2.7 million are for the electric fund. The water and sewer fund will be paid off in this current year.
The town has a three-year installment purchase agreement with an interest rate of 1.42 percent for $455,735 to purchase police vehicles in December of last year and a second agreement reached in May of this year for $415,965 to purchase equipment and vehicles at 1.39 percent.
In April Staples refinanced $5,125,000 of general obligation bonds from 2006 and the new interest rate of 2.05 percent resulted in $368,000 in savings.
The total commercial and residential value for Wake Forest listed for 2016-2017 on the Wake County website is $4.5 billion with the total commercial at $1.1 billion and the total residential at $3.4 billion, or 25 percent commercial and 75 percent residential. A change in state law recently included for-rent residential properties (apartments mostly) as commercial.
The 10 largest commercial properties in town in 2016 are listed below and include four apartment complexes. Substantial commercial projects underway this year such as Sam’s Club and the 316-unit Capital Creek Apartments on Rogers Road are not included but will certainly be next year.
*$29.8 million, Wake Forest Apartments LLC, a Pennsylvania firm which owns Aston, the apartments at the intersection of Caveness Farms Road and Ligon Mill Road. It was also known as Woodfield during development.
*$28.7 million, Crossroad Holdings LLC, the North Carolina firm owning Crossroads Ford on Capital Boulevard.
*$24.7 million, Wake Electric Membership, a North Carolina cooperative which owns substations and two buildings in Wake Forest.
*$22.7 million, WMCI Raleigh IV LLC, a Virginia firm which owns the Beckley apartments at the intersection of Heritage Lake Road and Rogers Road.
*$21.1 million, Caveness Partners LLC, a Georgia firm which owns Caveness Farm Apartments and the new duplex condominiums along Caveness Farms Road.
*$20.7 million, Weingarten Investments LLC, a Texas firm which owns vacant and commercial properties.
*$20.1 million, Gateway Forest LLC, a North Carolina firm which owns Gateway Crossing shopping center on the N.C. 98 Bypass.
*$19.9 million, Heritage Gardens LLC, a North Carolina firm which owns the Heritage Garden apartments off Rogers Road between South Main Street and the CSX rail line.
*$19.8 million, The Macsydney Company II LLC, a New York firm which owns The Factory on South Main Street.
*$17 million, Walmart, an Arkansas company which owns the Walmart off South Main Street.