OGDENSBURG — Mark Mashaw of Pinto Mucenski Hooper VanHouse & Company delivered an audit report for the city’s 2018 financial filings on Oct. 15.
The report was positive.
“We did not identify any material weaknesses. Our tests did not disclose any instances of noncompliance,” an audit summary provided to council members and the public stated.
“That’s a clean report both in your numbers and in your procedures,” Mr. Mashaw said.
The city’s fund balance continues to grow, Mr. Mashaw reported.
“You see here I have a fund balance at the beginning of the year of about $2.1 million, and at the end of the year the fund balance is $3.8 million,” Mr. Mashaw said. “So you have increased the fund balance by $1.7 million which is very positive.”
A big part of the fund balance growth Mr. Mashaw said was the change in health insurance.
“You went from self-insured to the premiums and you saved about $1.5 million,” he said
Mr. Mashaw noted that it is the city’s second healthy year in a row.
“The fund balance could be a little stronger, but at least you know you are moving in the right direction,” he said.
City Manager Sarah Purdy pointed out that the growth in fund balance comes along with a write off of about $500,000 in receivables in the form of delinquent property taxes.
“They were hanging on the books and we got to the point where we didn’t think they are coming in and we have to write them off and you guys did it and even with that write off you were able to have a positive bottom line,” Mr. Mashaw said.
“And those were items that had been out there a long time,” City Councilor Jennifer Stevenson said. “They weren’t just from a couple of years ago.”
The relatively health fund balance could make constructing the city’s next budget a little easier, Ms. Purdy said.
“Only to the degree that for the first time in the budgets for which I have been responsible, we are going to actually appropriate some fund balance to subsidize the budget,” Ms. Purdy said in an interview with the Times. “I’m a little nervous about using some of it, because once you start using some of it again, you have to make it up the next year.”
The fund balance is also instrumental in improving cash flow for the city and lessening its dependence on tax anticipation notes to keep bills paid.
“When we started to see that the fund balance was starting to come back up again, it would have been very easy to say, ‘Let’s use it to help offset expenses in the next year’s budget,’ or ‘Let’s use it so we can have a zero percent tax rate increase.’ But in point of fact, there were other messes that needed to be cleaned up first,” Ms. Purdy said.
The city’s budget proposal for next year is expected to be ready for the City Council at the beginning of next week, Ms. Purdy said.
“We’re not certain will hit that target because we have three sets of union negotiations going on at the same time,” Ms. Purdy said. “But I am trying to get it out for Monday.”