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Council receives positive audit report

January 22, 2019

by PETER KASPARI – Daily Freeman-Journal

The City Council of Webster City received positive news after the completion of an audit for the city for fiscal year 2017-2018. Justin Jacobsma, of Williams & Company P.C., of Sioux City, presented the results of that audit to the Webster City Council Monday evening at its regular meeting.

Jacobsma said the firm issued an “unmodified opinion,” which is said is also known as a “clean opinion,” which is a good result. “You want an unmodified opinion on your financial statements,” he said.

Some of the highlights included the general fund having approximately $3.4 million in unassigned balance. “If you took the cost per day it took to operate the city in FY 18, it was approximately $11,000,”Jacobsma said. “And that’s just taking the general fund expenses divided by 365.” He added that there were about 300 days of operating expenses in the general fund that were sitting in what he called “unassigned fund balance.” “Normally we like to see 90 to 100 days, but the city has well over that,” Jacobsma said. “It doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but it’s something I want to point out.”

Councilman Logan Welch asked if, in the opinion of the auditing firm, the overall audit was good, as previous years have produced good results. “I just don’t sense that this year,” Welch said. “But I know it’s positive.”

Jacobsma said that the audit was positive, and said even though the unassigned fund balance had a large number of days, it was still good news. “That unassigned fund balance went down, which, in my opinion, is OK because the government, they shouldn’t be sitting on a bunch of tax dollars,” Jacobsma said. “That’s not the role of government.” He also said the Brewer Creek Estates had a negative fund balance, but he attributed that to project expenses.

Utility funds when it comes to businesses are also looking good. “We can see they’re making money and covering their operating costs, which is what you want,”Jacobsma said.

He also reiterated that the audit was good news for the city. “It’s positive,” he said. “We don’t see a lot of negatives here when we look at the financial statements.”

Councilman Brian Miller, who arrived at the meeting at approximately 5:50 p.m., was absent from the otherwise unanimous vote to accept the audit and place it on file.

The city also approved the purchase of abandoned property located at 1021 Clark Street. City Attorney Zach Chizek called this property “unique,” as several years ago, “the city gave up part of the right of way and deeded 10 feet to adjoining property owners.” The court order states that the 10 feet had been deeded to the railroad. “It could become an issue if the city ever tries to re-sell the property,” Chizek said, adding that “the property’s landlocked.” The purchase was unanimously approved by the City Council.

Additionally, the council also voted to seek proposals for executive recruitment services as it re-starts the search for a new city manager. Webster City has been without a city manager since last summer after Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez, who had been in that position, accepted a similar job in another state. Kent Harfst, the assistant city manager and city recreation director, has been serving as interim city manager.

Click here to view the article as it originally appeared in the Daily Freeman-Journal.

Last modified: January 22, 2019

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