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Bel Air's financial position called 'very solid'

Bel Air Mayor Rob Reier, left, and Mike Blum mug for the camera Monday night after Reier and the other town commissioners thanked Blum for organizing the town's Christmas parade on Dec. 7.
Bel Air Mayor Rob Reier, left, and Mike Blum mug for the camera Monday night after Reier and the other town commissioners thanked Blum for organizing the town's Christmas parade on Dec. 7. (Courtesy of Michael Krantz, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Bel Air's town government received a clean bill of health in its most recent audit, which both town officials and the auditor say shows the town has an enviable financial position.

One result was both operating and capital reserves were increased following the 2013-14 fiscal year covered by the audit.

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The Board of Town Commissioners accepted the final audit report performed by SB LLC during Monday's town meeting.

In going over some of the audit's highlights, town Finance Director Lisa Moody said general fund expenses came in $567,326 under revenue on a budget of $11.86 million. As a result, the town increased its capital reserve by $330,000 and the general fund's reserve increased to $2.7 million from almost $2.5 million.

The increase to the capital reserve was made possible in part because of decision midway through the fiscal year to cancel a plan to spend $200,000 to upgrade Western Alley near Plumtree Park. Another $100,000 was shifted to the capital reserve from the general fund after former town administrator James Fielder determined the transfer met town policy. Fielder's last day with the town was Tuesday, as he left to join Gov. Larry Hogan's staff.

The commissioners and other town staff were briefed by a representative of the auditing firm during a Jan. 13 work session.

William Seymour, one of the auditors, said Bel Air is "very well organized from a financial standpoint; I wish all our clients were like this."

Fielder said that overall finances are "very solid" and the town was able to build up "a little nest egg" in capital without tapping operating revenue. He also said another indication of Bel Air's fiscal soundness is the town has more than two months of operating expenses in its general fund reserve.

The town commissioners on Monday also approved a $34,876 contract with Duke's Root Control to chemically treat tree roots that have grown into sewer line cracks and joints.

Public Works Director Stephen Kline said Bel Air was able to get a low per unit price because the contract is being piggybacked on one with Harford County.

More than 11,000 linear feet of 8-inch wide sewer mains in the Shamrock and Bradford Village neighborhoods will be treated, Kline said.

The commissioners also approved the reappointments of Brian Payne and Jennifer Mainster Hanna to the Historic Preservation Commission and gave a shout out to Mike Blum for organizing this year's annual Christmas parade.

"This is another one of the signature events that embody small town Bel Air," Mayor Robert Reier said. "The citizens really enjoy it."

"One of the things that makes this so significant is that it's a community experience," said Blum, who received a small gift from the commissioners.

He thanked the parade's volunteer marshals, the town's public works staff, the town police and the commissioners for their support.

Blum said the Dec. 7 parade was the 25th Christmas parade in Bel Air.

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