by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Norwood Young America City Council members continue to guide the city budget in a responsible direction, but there remains a few areas of concern that needs to be addressed.
That was the message presented by Brad Falteysek of Edina-based Abdo, Eick & Meyers, who presented a 22-page annual budget audit for the year ending December 2013 to the council during its meeting on Monday, April 14.
While there were improvements from last year, the key findings included a lack of internal controls in the audit and a persistent concern with the sewer fund.
The general fund budget totaled $1,711,738, an increase from $1,623,275 last year. Fund balances total $599,108, which remains low compared to similar cities, but is at the city’s goal of 35 percent of the budget.
Revenues totaled $1,442,417, which was $40,837 over budget, while expenditures were at $1,660,485, $37,210 over. Of those, public works supplies increased by $24,000 and fire supplies were over budget by $12,000, while revenues included $20,000 from license and permits and $12,000 from miscellaneous revenues, refunds and reimbursements from insurance trusts.
“Considering your revenues have decreased 20 percent over a three year period, your expenditures only decreased 8 percent,” Falteysek said. “In 2011, you had over $2 million in revenue and $1.8 million in expenditures. This year, you had $1.6 million in revenue and $1.6 million in expenditures. So much more even than you were in 2011.”
In terms of revenue sources, Falteysek praised the council for keeping taxes low as revenue decreased and taxes remained at 50 percent of the revenue, accounting for $860,571 in 2012 and $827,673 in 2013.
“No real changes there while your total revenues have decrease 20 percent in that timeframe,” he said. “Some of your other revenues have increased that same amount to keep taxes at the same 50 percent.”
What this means for residents, Falteysek explained, is that NYA is spending $463 per resident for the general fund compared to the cost of $553 per resident for cities of similar size.
Falteysek did highlight a few areas of concern including $14.62 million in debt service, not including The Harbor, sewer or water, which remain a focus.
“Continue to follow the rate plan,” he said. “We talked about going through the long range plan and the debt plan will be incorporated into that so you’ll have a full picture.”
Falteysek also highlighted a recurring problem regarding enterprise funds, in part the lack of cash reserves for stormwater funds.
The operating expenses for the water fund were $768,252 in 2013, while the cash reserves are at $596,257. For sewer it was $642,681 and cash reserves of $41,404, while for stormwater it was $103,899 in 2013, with cash reserves at -233,726.
“Bolton and Menk is doing a rate analysis plan for you and that, along with our long-range plan, will be utilized to help improve these funds.”
In particular the stormwater funds remain a concern, as it continues to operate at a loss.
“Definitely this a fund you want to focus on as far as increasing rates or somehow cutting your expenditures,” he said, adding recommendations will be made in the coming weeks.
The overall budget picture was stressed in Falteysek’s answer to council member Jim Keller’s direct question, “How ill is the patient?”
“Your sewer fund is ill… your stormwater fund is on life support,” said Falteysek. “General city funds are doing OK. Continue to monitor the long term plan, your debt plan and follow it, you should be OK. Your sewer fund needs to be addressed now.”
In other matters, Carver County Deputy Jeff Stratton presented the quarterly report and noted an increase in “disturbing the peace” calls.
“I think that attributed to people seeing things and calling them in and that’s what we want,” he said. “If people notice something suspicious, call it in. If people hear something at a park or at a house, I’d rather them call in and us find out it’s nothing than not call it in.”
He also mentioned medical calls were down significantly and miscellaneous traffic and traffic stops were up.
“This is the end of our three year run where we’re trying to increase traffic awareness – speed, seatbelts and distractionary driving,” he said, adding they are in a wave right now. “You’re going to see more of that because we’re trying to get more people educated about those focus areas.”
Stratton also responded to questions from citizens and council members on a perceived increased presence.
“We literally are standing out there to be a presence and also looking for violations that we can educate somebody on,” he said, adding they aren’t trying to fill a quota. “We’re trying to be out there as much as we can so people know that we’re there.”
Council members also reviewed a March 27 meeting of the performance review of City Administrator Steve Helget stating a positive consensus, an investments agreement with Convenience Store Investments for the Kwik Trip project including plans for a sidewalk on the north and west sides of the property and a future filling station and a fire hydrant, approved the attendance of the League of MN Cities annual conference on June 18-20, approved Wesley Thomas to the NYA Fire Department increasing membership to 31 and set Monday, May 12, as the public hearing for the backyard chickens ordinance.
In other news, Mayor Tina Diedrick proclaimed May to be Yellow Ribbon Month and May 17 as Yellow Ribbon Day. Also, Dan Stender and Todd Karels were announced as recipients of the Henry Walraven Award for leadership contributions for the improvement of a water/wastewater system in Minnesota by the Minnesota Rural Water Association.
The NYA Council will next meet on Monday, April 28, at 6:30 p.m.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.