The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Morenci city council receives good audit report 11.12.08

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Finally, some good financial news for city officials during the annual audit.

Auditor Philip Rubley gave city council a positive review of its budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008. The good news ended deficit problems that arose in previous audits.

“This is the best report you’ve had in long, long time,” Rubley said. “You took a deficit of $32,776 and turned it into an excess of $110,967. You’re making good progress.”

That’s an important step in the right direction, he said, but still short of where he would like to see the city’s financial standing. He recommends a fund balance of 25 percent of the general fund and the current standing puts the city about halfway there.

“You actually reduced your expenditures by $92,410 in one year,” he noted.

Revenues came in at $18,557 more than predicted, creating the fund balance of nearly $111,000.

Looking at state funding—the source of nearly a quarter of the city revenue—Rubley cautioned council to prepare for a “less mode.”

“It’s important to keep [the budget] in shape during these tough times,” Rubley said, “but you’ve done a great job.”

Rubley said the non-major funds were in good shape with the exception of the Town and Country Festival fund. A deficit of $9,000—some from costs in the previous year—will have to be covered by the general fund or another source of revenue.

The Local Streets fund ended with a balance of $59,484; Major Streets ended at $40,018; Fire Equipment at $44,373; and Morenci Area EMS at $26,008.

Utilities funds are often a source of trouble for communities, Rubley said, but Morenci’s shows an income of $102,144.

“You’re covering your costs,” he said. “You’re in good shape.”

The Internal Service fund—showing the costs and usage of city equipment—indicates good utilization.

Rubley said the city follows good accounting practices that give a fair presentation of finances to the public.

The audit’s general comments included a concern about “segregation of duties” in which one person has control over two or more phases of a transaction or accounting function.

That’s due to the small size of the staff, he said, and with the oversight practiced, he doesn’t see the situation as a problem. The only other recourse is to hire another employee.

Rubley also mentioned the city’s fund deposit policy, noting that three-fourths of the city’s bank deposits would be at risk in the case of bank failure. Auditors are required to discuss the issue, he said, and council should remain aware of the situation.

LOANS—Council member Keith Pennington asked Rubley if the city should continue with short-term financing rather than paying off debt. Rubley suggested continuing with financing.

“There’s too much unknown,” he said. “It’s great to pay off debt, but the way things are now, I’d think you’d be better to keep your cash position strong.”

LIBRARY—Library director Colleen Leddy noted that the city’s good financial standing is due in part to the library being required to use about $20,000 of its own funds to pay for expenses last year, due to budget reductions.

“The audit shows that money was given to the library,” she said, “but it doesn’t show that $20,000 came from the library. Will that eventually come back to the library?”

Rubley said that wasn’t a question for him to answer and no answer came from council, either.

CURRENT STANDING—Pennington stated after the meeting that it’s important for taxpayers to remember that the audit gives a picture of city finances at the conclusion of the fiscal year in June.

“It’s not any reflection of where we are today,” he said. “It’s not a correct assumption that those kind of savings will be realized this year.”

The city has incurred some added expenses, such as bringing police officer Frank Cordts back to full-time status, and Pennington estimates that the actual savings available in the current budget year could be half of what was presented by Rubley.

“The good report was a result of the drastic measures the council and the previous administration took to curb expenses,” he said, referring to layoffs and budget-cutting at the library and fire department.

Taking out loans for equipment purchases also helped improve the city’s standing, but at the beginning of the current fiscal year, about $50,000 was still owed.

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