Clintonville budget originally included $176,000 from fund
By Bert Lehman
The Clintonville City Council was informed at its April 12 meeting that the city didn’t use any funds from the undesignated fund balance to balance the 2015 budget.
When the council approved the 2015 budget in November 2014 it included $176,000 from undesignated fund balance to balance the expenditure portion of the budget. At the same time the council asked city staff to make cuts where possible to minimize the use of the undesignated fund balance.
“I am very happy to tell you that we did not have to tap the fund balance in 2015,” said City Administrator Chuck Kell. “Our department heads did a really great job of controlling their spending, so that $176,000 did not get used.”
Kell said he found out that information after meeting with the city auditors a couple of weeks ago. He added that funds would actually be added to the undesignated fund balance, although he didn’t know how much.
The 2016 budget includes about $55,000 of undesignated fund balance, but Kell said he expects the city won’t have to tap the undesignated fund balance for the 2016 budget.
Kell did point out that it’s not always bad to consider the use of undesignated fund balance.
Kell addressed the council about other budget items include projects that have come up that were not in the capital improvement program that was adopted by the council for 2016.
“We had a five year plan and there are a number of things that have come up that we weren’t aware of when that was done,” Kell said.
These items include the storm water work that needs to be done on Spring Street to alleviate flooding in the industrial park, the rehabilitation of the Pigeon River Dam, the council agreeing to work with a group of developers for residential and assisted living development in the community, and other less expensive items.
“Over the next two years our project list is up around $4 million,” Kell said.
He said the city has $500,000 in cash from previous borrowing to put toward those projects.
Kell said the water utility undesignated fund balance has $1.7 million in it. He said the city’s financial advisors recommend the fund include enough to cover six months of operating expenses, which he said is about $600,000.
“I think it would be very appropriate to use it for the capital project on Main Street to reduce the need to borrow money for that,” Kell said. He said that fund could also be tapped for the water project on Maize Street. That project is projected to cost $140,000.
“What I want the council to realize about that is your water rates are structured to bring in money for future projects, to help fund future projects,” Kell said. “It really doesn’t work too well if we just let the fund balance continue to build and build and build and you never use it for projects.”
He asked the council to keep that in mind for future discussions.
Kell informed the council that he has received four proposals from consultants regarding repairs to the Pigeon River Dam. The proposals are for inspection of the dam, engineering and preparing a grant application. He said he will have a recommendation for the council at the May council meeting.
He added that a consulting firm indicated to him that the DNR received less requests for dam rehab work than what its budget is set for. The deadline was in January.
“Obviously we couldn’t make that. We don’t have anything done yet,” Kell said.
Kell said he contacted the DNR to see if the city of Clintonville could still file an application for a grant. As of the council meeting, Kell said he hadn’t received a response back from the DNR.
If the DNR doesn’t allow the city to apply for grant money now, it will have to wait until 2018.
Engineering costs for the project will be around $42,000, Kell said.
Kell told the council that the city was originally going to replace the sewer on the Maize Street by digging.
“We’re finding that it’s so close to that large box culvert that’s in the street for storm sewer purposes that I think it’s going to be a very expensive and difficult thing,” Kell said.
Because of that the city is considering lining the sewer instead of digging it out, Kell said. The city is in the process of obtaining costs of lining it.
The council voted 9-1 to not install sidewalks on Maize Street when the street is redone. Sidewalks are not currently on the street. Alderwoman Jeannie Schley voted against not placing sidewalks on the street.
Kell also asked the council to start thinking about ways to fund road projects. He said currently, when the city replaces sewer and water in streets, the only cost assessed to property owners is sewer laterals.
“Not all, but a lot of communities, when they do replacement projects, they assess for the cost of the new asphalt streets that are put in, a portion on the property owners,” Kell said. “That’s a method you can use to reduce the amount of debt needed and the amount overall that the city taxpayers take on.”
He said when he worked in Little Chute 70 percent of the asphalt cost was funded with assessments.
“I just want the council to think about this because as you look around town and the amount of work and the cost that that’s going to accumulate to over the years, and the fact you can’t do very much just with the budget,” Kell said.
Kell said the city doesn’t have to change its policy, but he wants to council to consider it.
Wastewater treatment plant
Kell informed the council that the city has concluded its review of the interim financing for the wastewater treatment plant with the USDA. The USDA has approved it.
The project is nearing 90 percent complete regarding design, Kell said. The city is also close be being ready to place the project out on bid.
Revolving loan program
Kell informed the council that the city’s revolving loan program is a “mess.” He said the last report the city sent to the state about the city’s outstanding loans was in September of 2014.
He said the program was administered to by the previous city administrator and previous administrative assistant in the office. He added that other office staff wasn’t aware of the process and he wasn’t aware of the status of the program.
Kell added that the city’s loan manual has not been updated and is out of compliance with federal standards. He said he completed the loan manual in Little Chute in 2012.
Clintonville Clerk/Treasurer Peggy Johnson has assumed responsibility for getting the reporting up to date, Kell said. He said he will work on updating the manual.
Retiring Clintonville Police Chief Terry Lorge was recognized by the council and given a plaque for his 37 years of service to the city of Clintonville. Acting Mayor Lois Bressette presented the plague to Lorge.
“I really appreciate the nice plaque and the support that our department has had over the years,” Lorge said. “I want to say thanks to Chuck [Kell] for coming to our community. He’s been a breath of fresh air and has done a lot of good. I think the city is headed in a good direction and I hope it continues to improve. I’ll always be here. I don’t plan on going anywhere. I plan to support the community any way I can. I want to thank the community for letting me serve you. It’s been an honor.”
Kell thanked the current council for the support it has given him and the city staff over the past 18 months.
“I think we’ve accomplished some really good things together, and we work well together,” Kell said.
With many of the new council members present at the meeting as citizens, Kell welcomed them aboard.
“I intend to continue what I’ve been doing. I intend to continue this transparency with the council that will be seated next week (April 19) and I look forward to working with all of you,” Kell said.