By DAVID GREEN
Despite the rough economic times in the state, Morenci city council received good news Monday night from auditor Phil Rubley.
For the second year in a row, Rubley lauded the city’s progress in moving away from the deficit situation of the past and once again posting solid financial gains.
Rubley noted that the projected fund balance was exceed by nearly $50,000.
“You’ve taken the city from a very fragile fund equity and built on it,” he said. “That’s very good. You should be proud of yourselves.”
Rubley said he would like to see a much higher cash balance. He recommends having three months of expenses available, which would require a balance of at least $250,000. The audit showed that as of June 30, the fund balance stood at $154,870.
The sale of property for a cellular communications tower brought in an unexpected influx of $65,000 to help bolster the city’s financial situation.
Rubley reviewed the various major and non-major funds and pronounced them all in good shape with the exception of the Town and Country Festival fund.
Revenue produced an excess of $7,864, but a beginning deficit of $9,046 left the fund in the red.
City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder said that fund-raising efforts have covered the shortfall since the fiscal year ended.
Rubley said the audit led to an unqualified opinion, meaning the records were all in order and fairly presented.
“You should be commended for that,” he said. “You have a very good report and a very good financial position.”
Rubley cautioned council again this year about the “custodial risk” of investing funds that aren’t entirely insured. By placing funds in only two banks, a large amount of money exceeds the $250,000 federal insurance limit.
Banks are failing across the country, he noted, and to protect savings, council should consider moving some long-term CDs to other locations.
LEAVES—Leaf collection got underway this week, said city supervisor Barney Vanderpool. He’s been short of help and collection was delayed. After work along Main Street, DPW workers will begin collecting on the south side of town.
FIRE—Joshua Oltz was approved as a new member of the fire department and the wording was read on a plaque presented to the department from the Rohr family.
POLICE—Council approved hiring Richard Dover as a part-time police officer.
Police chief Larry Weeks told council about the availability of two Michigan State Police troopers who specialize in crime scene investigation.
Their skills will provide an extremely valuable service to Morenci and other smaller communities, the chief said.
Weeks told council that the new police cruiser is in service. The car is painted white and has new graphics that were designed by Simi Air. The vehicle cost about $18,000 through a state bidding process.
NEW ASSIGNMENTS—New mayor Keith Pennington announced the following committee assignments:
• Public Safety—Tracy Schell (chair), Joe Varga (vice chair) and Leasa Slocum.
• Public Works—Art Erbskorn (chair), Jason Cook (vice chair) and Varga.
• Finance and Legal and Economic Development—Greg Braun (chair), Slocum (vice chair) and Cook.
He named Schell as mayor pro tempore.
Robert Jennings and Brenda Spiess were appointed to fill two planning commission vacancies.
Pennington made no changes in the department heads.
He reminded the audience that the mayor leads the meetings, but other than that the position is mostly symbolic. The mayor gets one vote like all council members have.
He also pointed out that the mayor is not the head of the fire department, police department, etc., and any decisions must be made by the entire council only at a meeting that was announced in advance.
Pennington said that public comment about items on the agenda should be made at the start of the meeting. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, he said, only council members should discuss an issue while moving through the agenda.
The traditional agenda item seeking concerns and questions from the audience will remain as the final order of business before adjourning.