Audit clean, library millage talk returns

Auditor Rana Emmons presents the report to the City Council. Photo by Phil Custodio

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
While presenting this year’s budget audit report, Rana Emmons of PSLZ LLC Certified Public Accountants said the city’s library millage resolution of 2014 is holding it back.
“It’s going to catch up with you at some point,” Emmons said at the Nov. 27 City Council meeting. “If you continue doing that, going forward, you’re shooting yourself in your foot.”
The 2014 resolution includes the provision, “in future years, the city will reduce its general operating millage levy by 0.691 mills from the level that the city would otherwise have imposed.”
Council member Eric Haven, who unsuccessfully introduced a resolution to eliminate the provision last year, had asked for Emmons’ opinion on it.
“It makes no sense,” Haven said. “Over the last couple years, we’ve lost $60,000 plus.”
Resident Lorry Mahler said the provision was created as an incentive for voters to approve the district library millage, and upheld last year. It was written to avoid double taxation.
“The city’s not giving us anything,” Mahler said. “It’s so we’re not paying it twice, that’s all.”
“My opinion is we made a promise to the citizens,” said Mayor Steven Percival. “Thirty thousand would be nice but we promised it back to the citizens so it would pass.”
“For the first year,” said Council member Sharron Catallo.
“It never said ‘first year,’ that’s not in writing,” Mahler said
Percival said the issue can be placed on a future agenda for further discussion.
This year’s city audit is clean, Emmons said.
“This is a good report,” she said.
According to the Audited Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, the city spent less than it budgeted.
The General Fund, the city’s primary funding source for operations, ended the fiscal year with a balance of $246,250, which is $72,492 more than it was last year.
“You planned to spend more than you did – that was good,” Emmons said. “Some revenue sources came in ahead of projections, which also helped the bottom line.”
Property tax revenue to the General Fund was $482,587, an increase of $13,533, or 1.9 percent, over the prior year. Revenue from all sources to the General Fund was $721,565.
Total General Fund spending was $633,775. The difference, $87,790, was added to the fund balance.
Total general-obligation bond debt, approved by voters in 2002, was $1,419,000 at the end of the fiscal year. The city paid off $303,000 of its total bonded debt this past year.
The city took on no new debts this past year, and completed no significant capital improvement projects, Emmons said.

2 Responses to "Audit clean, library millage talk returns"

  1. Cory Johnston   November 30, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    I am very disturbed that the Library millage is again being discussed and that some on the Council do not seem to understand what they voted for or why. When the cost of library services was moved from a city general fund expense to a separate tax millage, the council unanimously agreed to take that expense out of the city general fund tax millage since the expense would no longer come from that source. Council members Eric Haven and Sharron Catallo both voted for that and yet they now don’t seem to know what they voted for and want to raise our taxes. When we voted to approve a higher Library millage, we did not vote to raise our city taxes, we only voted for additional funding for the library with the understanding and unanimous vote of the City Council that we would not continue to pay the city for a service they were no longer funding or providing. Why does this need to be discussed over and over again? Nothing has changed, there are no new rules and the math is pretty simple.

    I am even more troubled that the auditor doesn’t understand this and implied that the fixed reduction is somehow cumulative and will lead to a zero tax rate if the city continues on as it has in the past. That is pure nonsense but only one resident and the Mayor made any attempt to correctly explain what has been agreed to since 2012 when the library issue first came up.

    If the city council wants to charge even higher taxes than they do already, say so and present the reasons. Do not hide behind a non-existent policy or someone’s inability to understand what they have already agreed to numerous times and do not drag the auditor into something that has nothing to do with the city’s audit.

    Reply
  2. Michael Powell   December 2, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Why is the most important part of this story missing? No where is it mentioned what the “separate tax millage rate” is that city residents are currently being charged for the library.
    Are they being charged the exact same 1.21490 library millage that township residents are being charged along with the 0.691 they were being charged for library services before passage of the millage proposal?
    If this is the case, then it’s understandable why city residents would be outraged about double taxation.

    However it should be noted that no matter how you cut it passage of the district library tax proposal increased the city and the township taxpayers library tax by a whopping 81%.

    Reply

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