7/31/2020 11:52:00 AM Half-year finances look fine for North Branch
Despite concern about shortfalls in property taxes due to covid-19 in turn affecting local government budgets, and state aid being cut due to reduced revenues passing through the state; North Branch Financial Director Joseph Starks said at last week’s city council work session, the city is “on track” in his the mid-year fiscal snapshot.
Taxes as of the May half-year payments were on-target and the city’s building boom is helping with income, with permits up 70 percent over same time last year.
Council member Brian Voss commented he was happy the (former) city attorney line item was at 75 percent remaining at mid-year, considering recent allegations of unusually large legal bills being voiced.
“Is there anything we need to keep our eyes on?” Voss asked of Starks.
The city interest rate is being monitored for investments, Starks explained. He is moving funds frequently for the best rates. On the flip side low interest rates also help keep borrowing costs down.
As for the millions in aid being funnelled through the state in federal CARES Act monies, the city is planning to wait on spending its $808,000 allotment until there’s final details on what Chisago County plans for its $6.7 million share.
CARES Act monies are in the bank right now, according to North Branch’s administrator. The deadline to have city funds spent or dedicated is November 15.
The money is for covid-19 related expenditures needed to mitigate spread or protect the public. Categories are public health, public safety and small businesses that were ordered to close can also receive aid --but the county might be accepting the responsibility of dispersing resources for small business-- that policy is being determined.
City Administrator Renae Fry said North Branch must adhere to CARES Act distribution rules closely; and not wander from what cities are allowed to do with the money or the city will end up having to pay the government back if aid was spent on ineligible costs. North Branch wants an “audit proof” utilization of its funds, she advised.