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Granite Shoals OKs budget consultant with deadline looming

Granite Shoals City Council on Sept. 1, 2023

The Granite Shoals City Council voted to hire a budget consultant during a Sept. 1 special meeting. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Granite Shoals City Council voted to hire a consultant for the 2023-24 fiscal year to help balance the city’s budget and meet a looming state deadline of Sept. 29. The council is questioning fund balances that went unreconciled during a tumultuous year. The hiring decision was made during a Sept. 1 special meeting.

The council held three special meetings between Aug. 28 and Sept. 1 to take emergency action on the proposed budget, which they believe is based on inaccurate fund balances. Granite Shoals has until Sept. 29 to pass its budget, which is the absolute deadline by state law if it intends to collect taxes in the coming fiscal year.

“The reality is that we don’t know how much money there is to be spent,” Mayor Kiel Arnone said.

Councilors unanimously chose to enter into a contract with Marty Coursey, a Texas-certified financial officer, to act as the city’s interim budget consultant. 

Only five members of the council were present at the special meeting. Place 2 Councilor Kevin Flack and Place 3 Councilor Judy Salvaggio were absent.

“The point of hiring Marty was to bring financial stability and reassurance to our citizens that we are doing everything correctly,” Arnone told in an interview after Coursey was hired. “I don’t think any of us on the dais can vote for something that is not correct in good faith.”

Both Arnone and Flack told that City Manager Peggy Smith had not reconciled the city’s funds since former Finance Director Russel Martin resigned in June 2022. Reconciled as an accounting term refers to comparing the transactions and activity within a fund to supporting documentation to ensure total accuracy.

In its search for a budget consultant, Granite Shoals reached out to Texas First Group, which provides interim management services to Texas cities. Coursey will make $58 an hour and stay on until the 2023-24 budget is adequately balanced.