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July 6, 2022

6/17/2022 12:51:00 PM
Taylors Falls accepts good audit

Taylors Falls can’t catch a break it seems. With the clerk/treasurer out on an indefinite administrative leave,  a couple of temporary staff have been located to perform the most basic tasks for the city one or two days per week, but meantime, the fire department’s state funding is in jeopardy because the deadline to submit a form was missed, the city’s Internet-based phones crashed, the city had two valves “explode” and a watermain broke...and the quotes sought for seasonal street repairs didn’t come in as hoped.

Council members, minus Larry Julik Heine Monday night this week, at least got good news in the annual audit presented by Brad Faltysek of Abdo.  The city General Fund reserves are in good shape, over the target amount of 35 to 50 percent of expenses.  The revenues were over budget in 2021 and expenditures were over by about the same amount.  Balances were only spent down some $30,000 which is acceptable, council heard.

Water rates could use a review, as Faltysek explained the incoming and outgoing sides are near even with cash flow on the operating side tight. Storm Sewer Fund continues to get built and he commended council for keeping their budget eye on this and all the enterprise accounts.

On the negative side of the audit, council was advised council minutes need to be addressed in a more timely manner.  The minutes are to be reviewed and accepted by the following meeting (within 30 days usually) and posted or published for the public.  Invoice approvals were lacking in 2021 and bills were not paid within 35 days of being approved by council.

Council voted 4-0 to contract with the accounting and finances firm for needed services heading into 2022, to pick up the slack in staffing. Faltysek said Abdo can do complicated finances such as projections or day-to-day tasks, whatever the city will specify.

~ Preferred Paving out of Rush City was the only firm responding to a staffing-request put out seeking  quotes for street work, so council awarded Preferred with $159,000 in surface and other bituminous repairs for Caneday, Chestnut, Eckdahl, and First Street-to-Basil, and the Community Center lot.
Council member Troy Aanonsen voted no because the expenditure was over-budget.  

Mayor Mike Buchite and Council member Ross Rivard noted the audit shows strong reserves and there’s money to get the Community Center Parking Lot done as well, which was also quoted.

Council also voted 4-1 with Aanonsen opposed to approve an extension to a real estate agreement for the empty city lot on Bench Street north of the drive in restaurant.  He said there has been an extension already and the unfinalized status of the property “has gone on long enough.”

The new deadline for closing is now September.  The developer of a proposed boutique hotel stated that original plans have had to be given a second look due to a variety of factors— site soils, material costs, labor, financing, etc.
The city names its “Stewardship” Award winner at this time of year and Kim Zitelman was announced the recipient. She requested no photos.

Some attributes announced in presenting the award Monday night included: Zitelman volunteers at the school, and for the Lighting Festival, founded the PTO organization, served on the Chamber of Commerce and has been a resident since 1977.

IN public comment council heard  how not having  telephone service and other administrative issues are hurting the city.  Diane Nelson said due to storm damages people are seeking roofing permits and other building services and it’s difficult to get in touch with anybody at city hall.  

Council reminded the audience the environmental services (planning and zoning) department at Chisago County offices are processing permits and applications and residents need to contact the county.  (The former city inspector has retired.)

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