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City approves paying $19.4M for previous year's contracts

By Melissa Crowe
Nov. 20, 2012 at 5:20 a.m.

Victoria City Council unanimously approved a budget amendment to pay $19.4 million in purchase orders and contracts charged to the previous year's budget.

Assistant Finance Director Andrew Jacob said the goal of these encumbrances is to prevent over-spending. Funding for these contracts was provided in last year's budget, so they do not mark a new commitment of money.

"Encumbrances allow organizations to recognize future commitments of resources prior to an actual expenditure," Jacob said, quoting from Wikipedia.org, during Tuesday's city council meeting.

Jacob said purchase orders are typical encumbrance transactions.

Because the finance department needs to keep accounting records up-to-date, and the payments need to be processed timely, the issue was considered on an emergency basis.

"I would classify this as bookkeeping-housekeeping," Jacob said. "It just takes some time to pull all these encumbrances together."

The largest expense was $7.5 million for the residential/arterial capital improvement bond fund.

Where the general fund has a $1.96 million encumbrance, Jacob said $1.1 million will go to Brannan Paving Co. as part of the balance from previous work.

The contract with that company was about $2.9 million, Jacob said. Of that, about $1.8 million was paid during the previous year's budget, leaving the $1.1 million paid Tuesday.

Councilman Joe Truman said all the expenses had been accounted for in previous budgets.

"There are no increases in money, we're just moving it forward," Truman said. "Just paying the bills, but not paying contracts until it's done."

Communications Director O.C. Garza said each charge is contractually committed and carried over from the previous year.

If the contract has not been completed, the expense is carried into this year's budget from last, he said.


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