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Harmony Council receives audit report

Fri, Apr 17th, 2009
Posted in Government

The Harmony City Council approved the audit for 2008 as completed by Smith Schafer and Associates. This is the second year they have done the audit for the city. Ben Turnquist and Jason Boynton presented the audit to the council at their regular meeting on April 14.

Boynton explained the purpose of the audit report is to assure the city that their financial statements are free of misstatement. They had met with City Administrator Jerome Illg in March to go over Harmony's financial statements, as well as the Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) which was prepared by Illg.

The presentation went over the expenditures and revenues of the different areas of the budget, as well as the fund balances in these departments. The ending fund balance of the general fund was $432,000, the ambulance had $200,000 and the Community Center project was a negative $236,658 until the debts are paid off. The fire fund has a negative $90,478 due to equipment purchases, and the revolving loan fund has $143,000.

The TIF (Tax Increment Financing) revenue for the city is at $102,908, which is up from $84,000 in 2008. Local Government Aid (LGA) was down 12 percent to $327,527 due to the unallotment in 2008.

Expenditures were up eighteen percent to $126,905. These costs include the new siren that was $10,355, as well as the mayor, council, elections, legal and civil defense costs. Expenditures for the library were up seven percent, and there was a six percent increase in Park and Recreation spending. Capital Outlay for government buildings was $444,000 due to the Community Center improvements.

Boynton also went over the city's reserves, and stated that the unreserved general funds were 82 percent of the total general fund. He said a city should have at least 50 percent unreserved.

The debt service general obligation bonds for housing are at $2.58 million, about one-third of which is Heritage Grove. Boynton explained that Harmony's debts are not burdensome compared with other cities, and he has no worries that the debts cannot be repaid.

Illg said that everything that has the opportunity to be refinanced has been refinanced in recent years.

Council member Dan Tieffenbacher asked Boynton if they could lock in the audit price of $11,500 for the next two years, instead of having to renew the contract every year. Boynton is going to look into that option.

Electrical upgrade and alley improvements

Stuart Morem of Morem Electric was at the meeting to explain the estimates he gave the city for improving street lights on West Center Street. The EDA (Economic Development Authority) has received a grant and has $46,200 to develop a parking lot in the empty lot behind the bank. In preparation for work on the parking lot, they would like to improve the lighting in the area, which is not adequate.

Morem gave the council three options that can be done. The first option, which must be done if they are going to do the parking lot, is to install a four inch empty conduit from the corner of West Center Street and 1st Ave. NW east 175 feet and north 130 feet. The city has already purchased the conduit. The price of $8,950 includes an empty conduit for a future transformer at the bank. Illg said this option could be paid with money from the TIF fund, or the electric fund.

Options two and three each cost $9,250 and do not qualify for TIF funds. These options include installing three new lights on the north side of West Center Street. There is already a conduit installed behind the curb. Option three is for two lights on the south side of the street, near Harmony Foods and ReMax Realty.

Four lights that are already in the area would be eliminated if these new ones were installed. The new lights could be purchased out of the electric fund.

The city would like to make improvements to the alley behind the bank at the same time that the parking lot is in progress. Morem explained that underground transformers would eliminate the overhead lines through the alley. The phone company would have to be involved since they have some lines through there as well. Illg are going to check into estimates for new asphalt.

City Well pumps

Morem also spoke to the council about some estimates for control of the well pumps. Johnson explained that there are currently two wells in town, and they do not have both wells running at the same time. Both pumps are left in automatic mode. He said that something needs to be done to be sure that if one well is getting low that the other one would automatically kick in.

Morem presented three options that would help. The first option would have a manual selector switch at the water tower, a two-position switch for lag and lead. One pump would be in lag and one in lead. If the water level were to drop below a certain point the second pump would start automatically. The city maintenance would change the switches manually to alternate the well pumps. Johnson said that this option would work fine, and the council approved it for $4,950.

The second and third options were more expensive, at $8,650 and $11,000. The advantage of option two was to have one central location to change the lead pump. Option three was a completely wireless option, in which Johnson could watch the wells on the internet at certain locations.

Storm Water ordinance

The council approved the new Storm Water ordinance and set the rate at $1 per RF. What this means is that residential homes, with an RF of 1, would pay one dollar per month for water runoff. Anyone getting a city bill would be charged. The money from this ordinance, which would be about $6,000 a year, would be put into a fund to pay for the street sweeper. Undeveloped lots will not be charged. Commercial and industrial lots of less street frontage than 125 feet are classified as an RF 3, and schools and churches have an RF of four.

Parking Issues

Brandy Williams, who lives on 1st St. SW behind the high school, came to the council for the second time with concerns about high school kids parking on the street. Many times students have blocked her driveway or parked so close to her car that she can't move it. She has to park a long distance away from her house because she only has room for one car in her driveway. She suggested using the new parking lot across from Harmony Foods for students to park. She said she has had kids yell at her, give her the finger, and throw garbage in her yard. She also suggested having permit-only parking on that street or a reserved space in front of her house.

City Attorney Richard Nethercut told Williams that it is a public street and there cannot be private parking on it. He added that it is a county road and the city can't do much about it. He suggested she talk to the county commissioners.

Other business

Chris Johnson said he did some smoke testing on manholes near the Hegg farm and are now working to fix a few leaks in the area. The city employees are considering buying their own blower and smoke bombs so they won't have to hire someone at $85 to come and do the smoke testing.

The council approved the ambulance subsidy contract with the county, as well as a liquor license for the Village Square.

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