City in good shape financially

ALPENA — The Alpena Municipal Council received its independent audit report for the fiscal year 2016-17 during its meeting Monday and even though there was a decrease in fund balance of more than $450,000, auditor Straley, Lamp & Kraenzlien said the city’s financial situation is better than many communities.

Certified Public Accountant Mark Sandula said the main reason for the decline in fund balance was because funds from it were transferred to other accounts, such as the marina and road funds for capital projects. He said for the year revenues were $10,214,060 and expenses $10,171,470, which would have meant a slight increase in fund balance if it wasn’t for the transfer of the funds for projects.

According to Sandula the fund balance has $2,762,550 in it, which is 25.9 percent of the general fund. That is enough money to run the city for 94 days. By comparison, at the end of the 2015-16 fiscal year, the fund balance was 32.7 percent of general fund and could operate the city for 119.

The city’s legacy obligations for retirees and those who will retire is still significant. As of June 30, 2017 the city was $9.2 million behind estimated cost to cover retirement benefits. Sandula said there was good news however.

“The good news is you have 24 years to pay for it,” he said.

The city also lost $226,000 in property tax last year, due to the state’s decision to abolish personal property tax, Sandula said, which also lowered revenue.

Overall Sandula praised the city’s finances and the job staff had done in budgeting, limiting spending and compiling the needed material to have an accurate audit conducted.

“The city is extremely well run and you’re in a tremendous financial position,” Sandula said. “As long as the snowplowing bill doesn’t go up too high you should remain in pretty good shape.”

In other business:

∫ Mayor Matt Waligora appointed Mike Glowinski and Joe Garber to the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for three-year terms. He also appointed Cindy Johnson to the Sculpture Committee for the Public Art Along the Bi-Path.

∫ Waligora proclaimed the week of Jan. 21-28 Thunder Bay International Film Festival Week in the city.

∫ Target Alpena Director Jim Klarich gave his semi-annual report to the council and updated on ongoing and future projects.

∫ council voted to hire a new firefighter/paramedic for the fire department.

∫ after the regular meeting the board went into closed session to discuss the city’s ongoing water and sewer litigation with Alpena Township.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.