by ADAM GRUENEWALD
NYA City Council members took some steps to make better financial decisions in the future during their meeting on Monday, Oct. 14.
While budget discussions continue, council members approved the initial $7,000 for Edina-based Abdo Eick & Meyers, LLP to develop a financial tool to assess the impact of budgetary decisions. The council could then pay $1,500 for annual updates to the five-year financial plan.
Accountant Brad Falteysek explained the living document works well with the city’s existing capital improvements plan to assess debt limits, outstanding bonds and levies as it relates to the general fund.
“What we’re doing is taking a look at all of your funds and taking a five-year projection looking at the city as a whole,” said Falteysek. “Trying to manage those levies would be the ultimate goal as well as how we’re going to fund those projects in the future.”
City Administrator Steve Helget had worked with a similar document in his time in Montgomery, but Falteysek said his company has since made some improvements.
In addition to providing charts and graphs, the 20-page plan can also assess the impact of new projects on the taxpayer and budgets.
“We can easily move bonds and projects around and see what the result is going to be,” said Falteysek. “The result for the taxpayer. What is the ultimate impact on the taxpayer? What is the average resident going to pay in taxes related to specific scenarios we put together?”
The financial tool is set up with input from council and city staff, and can then be adjusted to meet certain goals like maintaining, or lowering, the current tax rate.
Falteysek said the document will be created for next year in conjunction with the 2013 audit to help the council along with their budget meetings in the future.
“It really makes that budget process so much easier just having that plan in place that everyone has agreed to,” he said. “It gets you on a track to where you’re at currently as well as where you’re going to be in five years based on decisions you’re making now.”
Council members and Helget were enthusiastic about the benefits of the plan as it relates to financial planning, but Helget said council and staff will need to do some preliminary prioritizing for future projects for the plan to work.
“We’ve been talking about projects not knowing exactly when we’re going to do them,” said Helget, pointing out the upcoming phase two of the mill and overlay project is the only one with a clear timetable. “We can be limited or broad on this, but we have to be somewhat specific.”
Also, council members heard from Owatonna-based Jaguar Communications representative about potential savings for the city with regards to fiber optics for internet and phone services.
Jaguar Communications already has a deal with Carver County for fiber optics in the area, and is looking to offer services to libraries, law enforcement and government centers as well as broadband providers.
While council members recognize the predicted cost savings and benefits to the city, they will review a final contract at their next meeting on Oct. 28.
In other news, council members approved a request for special legislation to acquire Outlot A, acknowledged their support of funding for Highway 212, delayed a grinder stations project and set a budget meeting for Oct. 23. Also, they agreed to have the Planning Commission review the city’s ordinances for potentially allowing chickens which came at the request of Paula and Rollin Beaver.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at email@example.com.