Bristol, VA scores lowest score in state for possible “fiscal distress”

Bristol Virginia City Hall

UPDATE:  Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 1:30:

Bristol, Virginia Interim City Manager Randy Eads says the city’s debt is actually in the $137 million range rather than the $241 million range.

“While it is true the CAFR (6/30/16) shows total debt at $241M, roughly half of that amount is owed by component units of the City,” Eads said.

He said some of the debt is attributed to the Industrial Development Authority, the school board and Bristol Virginia Utilities, which is now no longer reported as a component of the City of Bristol.

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BRISTOL, VA (WJHL) – Bristol, Virginia is one of just a handful in Virginia flagged for further review by the Auditor of Public Accounts, amid concerns the city may be in what’s considered “fiscal distress.”

According to a recent APA presentation, Bristol, labeled there as City A, scored the lowest in all of Virginia for its 2016 financials. The city also showed a pattern over the last three years that looks concerning and needs further study, according to the state.

“The City of Bristol is City A,” Interim City Manager Randy Eads confirmed. “Myself and the CFO have had a discussion with the APA, and we will be working with the APA to determine how the scores were reached. The City will also be open to working with the APA to address any issues. Furthermore, the City was in the process of developing certain budget and financial policies prior to the APA’s score being released.”

Eads said the city expects to receive more information from the state next week.

The review is part of a new early warning system in Virginia meant to target and help local governments that show signs of possible financial problems.

Life long Bristol, Va resident, Kiyana Court is shocked to see her hometown could be in financial trouble.

State data also shows the city was $241 million in debt in 2016.

“If I’m paying my tax dollars the way that I should be I think they should be spent wisely,” Court said.

Bristol is one of about six local cities and counties flagged in the audit. City leaders continue to believe The Falls will turn into a profit.

Local high school student, Luke Heneger said he’s worried about taxes going up and he doesn’t think The Falls is worth it.

“Not right to the people of the city who go to work everyday who are paying for this and it ends up looking like a bunch of rocks,” Heneger said.

“We will determine if additional oversight is needed,” Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts Martha Mavredes said. “We don’t know (if a government is in fiscal distress) until we do the follow-up.”

Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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