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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Auditor Advises City To Watch Fund Balance

“Your unassigned General Fund Balance remains in good condition, but be careful not to use too much of it,” cautioned Jeanean Robenhorst, the auditor presenting the annual audit to Peshtigo City Council on Tuesday, June 3. The audit, done by Schenck CPAs, shows the general fund balance dropped $237,000 between Dec. 31, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2013. Part of that was planned, the Schenck auditor said.

The audit report notes that the unassigned general fund balance of $1,357,053 at the end of 2013, down from $2,140,391 a year earlier, represents 42 percent of the budgeted general fund expenditures for the year. Because the city receives about 60 percent of its annual revenues with the November state shared taxes payment, they project the city needs to maintain a general fund balance between $875,000 $950,000 to finance expenditures until the November payment is received.

Report shows the total general fund balance was $2,414,600 at the end of 2012 and $2,178,942 at the end of 2013. Total city funds dropped during the same period from $6,005,334 to $5,172,410. She said the big drop in TIF funds - almost $500,000, was expected because it is the final year of the construction phase. Based on current returns, the investment should be fully repaid in five years as planned.

Robenhorst said the water utility did better than the year before, reflecting the first full year of the rate increase. Earnings match the 1.3 percent rate of return authorized by the Public Service Commission, up from less than half a percent for 2012.

The sewer utility once again had an operating loss. Robenhorst said they were going to recommend a rate increase but realized that had just happened. “Hopefully, the increase in sewer rates will cover the losses for next year,” she commented. Operating revenues for 2013 were $493,262, up from $350,4012 in 2012, while operating expenses were down, from $749,873 to $672,145. Losses before capital contributions and transfers in from UDAG and TIF were $435,259 in 2012 and $244,156 for 2013.

The report noted that the utility’s assets increased $409,547 for 2013 compared to an increase of $176,664 for 2012, but when evaluating the operating results of a utility, it is important to consider the additional debt service now required, so they provided a cash flow comparative summary. It shows the bottom line balance dropped from $648,819 on Jan. 1, 2013 to zero on Dec. 1. The report notes the city completed a sewer plant upgrade and will need to increase its sewer rates to finance it, but as the auditor had already explained, they then realized the increase is already in effect. She said hopefully that increase will be enough to cover costs in the coming year.

Alderman Mary Lock asked about the TIF payoff projections, and was told currently the balance on the development costs is $3.1 million, and the tax increment was $707,000 for 2013. If that keeps on, in five years more than $3 million will have been generated. Even with the slight decrease for 2013, there should be more than enough to cover the TIF expenditures by 2018, when the TIF ends.

Alderman Tom Gryzwa thanked Robenhorst for her firm’s fine work on the audit, and she expressed appreciation to city personnel for their cooperation. “It’s a joy coming here...they make it easy,” she declared.

The evening started with public hearings at 6:30 and 6:45 p.m. for revisions to the sewer use ordinance and appointment of election officials. No one from the public attended either hearing, and no one spoke for or against either ordinance. Both had been read last month and were fully reviewed by the responsible committees before being sent on for full Council approval, which was unanimous.

The revised ordinance allows the city clerk to divide election day duties between two teams, in order to shorten what otherwise are extremely long days for poll workers.

After a reading by Alderman Mike Behnke, Council formally endorsed a proclamation honoring retiring First Assistant Chief Mike Madden for an unprecedented 50 years as a member of Peshtigo Volunteer Fire Department. Madden was unable to attend, and a formal presentation will be done at a future Council meeting, Behnke said.

Council formally approved Mayor Cathi Malke’s appointment of members to the special volunteer committee that will work with the Diggers television show to be produced in Peshtigo in late summer or early fall. Members are Mary Hahn of the Peshtigo Historical Society, Pat Roland for the Chamber of Commerce, Alderman Mike Behnke for City Council, Stanley Nogalski, a retired DNR employee, and historians Robert Couvillion and Ron Strojny.

Behnke, chair of the Personnel Committee, reported they hired Shayla Radtke for the part time secretary position at $10 per hour. “She’s catching on and working out very nicely,” he commented.

Public Works Director George Cowell reported hopes of buying a demo model plotter planner, and Council authorized purchase of a new one even though the price is $9,495, slightly over the budgeted amount. Cowell said the dealer will take a little off the price to bring it closer to his budget. The demo model had been sold to someone else.

Cowell reported sewer flushing is 75 percent complete. Flushing in the Peck and Brown Avenue areas took more than three hours, and removed significant amounts of manganese and rust. The flushing is done at night to minimize impact on residents.

Two fire hydrants are inoperable and will need to be replaced, Cowell said. He ordered five replacements. Cost is about $1,800 to $2,000 to purchase and $1,500 to $1,800 to install Alderman Dave Marquardt, chair of the License and Police committee reported a number of beer and liquor licenses, and all were approved by unanimous vote. They include a special license for Saint Mary Catholic Church for an event at Badger Park on July 13, and one for Wild Fire Hog Chapter motorcycle club for an event on July 26.

After changing the required amount of insurance coverage from $100,000 to $1 million, the rental agreement for city facilities, in particular ball fields, was unanimously approved as drafted by Parks and Rec director Dave Zahn and refined by City Attorney Dave Spangenberg. The Naming Rights documents had been tabled by the committee and did not come up for Council action.

Council approved the Hazard Mitigation Planning documents that are part of the Marinette County plan.

Contract for repaving Emery Ave from Trout Creek Bridge to East park Drive was awarded to Northeast Asphalt for $56,399.35.


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