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Soldiers Grove Board reviews 2017 audit report
Soldiers Grove

SOLDIERS GROVE - At their regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, Nov. 8, the Soldiers Grove Village Board received and approved their 2017 finanial audit. Due to a family concern, village clerk Tammy Kepler was not able to be present, and the board tabled the agenda items pertaining to health insurance and employee wages and the personnel policy to the next meeting.

The meeting started out with a public input session on an amendment to the village’s Agriculture Zoning Ordinance to comply with the DATCP Farmland Preservation certification requirements. There was no public input offered, and later in their agenda, the board went on to approve the amendment unanimously by roll call vote. Trustee Vicki Campbell was not present for the vote.

The ordinance was amended to include the following language: “Essential services (utilities) not normal to agricultural production need to meet s.91.46(4) Wis. Stats” under the conditional uses section, and under the lot, building and yard requirements section, “Rezonings need to meet s. 91.46(4) and (2) Wis. Stats.”  

These additions bring the ordinance into compliance with Chapter 91.46(4) of the Wisconsin Statutes, and will allow farmers zoned agricultural to receive farmland preservation tax credits.

2017 audit report

Kim Hollermann of Johnson Block & Co. attended the meeting to present the village’s 2017 audit report. The report covered  the year that ended December 31, 2017. The scope of the audit included all funds and activities of the Village.

Topline recommendations for the village included:

* Credit card payments should have backup - invoices attached to credit card statements. Someone other than the person making the charges should approve the credit card bill.

* Disbursements should have invoices/backup attached to the check copy.

* Daily deposit slips should be detailed, cash deposited daily or locked in a safe and receipt posting control report printed daily. Deposit slip, daily receipt report, and receipt from bank to be kept and filed together.

* Consider a rate analysis for the Water Utility and Sewer Fund.

* Monitor/reconcile balance sheet accounts relating to inter-fund activity on a monthly basis.

* Prepare a comprehensive checklist for month-end and year-end accounting procedures to be completed.

* Formalize an anti-fraud program/policy.

* Authorization of pay rates in personnel file.

* Consider payoff of unfunded retirement liability of $152,946.

Revenues and expenses

Overall, with the village’s general funds, budgeted revenues were $399,020, and actual revenues were $358,485, for a variance of ($40,535). The two biggest changes were $12,121 above anticipated intergovernmental revenue, and a $50,730 shortfall from the fact that two village land parcels did not sell as anticipated in the budget.

General fund expenditures were budgeted for a $31,477 loss, but came in at a greater loss of $56,480, a difference of $25,003 greater than budgeted. Though expenditures for general government came in $7,865 below budget, public works $15,728 below budget, and capital outlay $1,095 below budget, there were overages in public safety of $5,300, and culture and recreation of $3,856. This combined with the revenue shortfall from the properties that did not sell and other more minor shortfalls, resulted in a net deficiency of revenues over expenditures of $25,003 over budget.

Overall, since 2012, there has been a general downward trend in general fund balance, from $534,668 in 2012 to $380,757 in 2017. This is a decrease of $153,911.

In governmental fund balances, restricted funds (deferred housing loans, CDBG funds, fire department fund, community development fund, library fund and the Red Coats fund), decreased from 2016 by $18,582. The fire department fund decreased by $17,810, and the community development fund by $16,058. This was partially offset by a growth in the library fund of $10,025, and the Red Coat fund of $6,062.

Of 2017 revenues, 59 percent came as intergovernmental revenue ($230,504 in shared taxes and $22,196 in highway); 13 percent came as public charges for services ($56,903); 12 percent as intergovernmental charges ($55,000); eight percent as taxes ($34,450); seven percent as miscellaneous revenues ($33,823), and one percent as penalties, forfeitures, licenses and permits ($2,367).

The trend in shared revenues since 2012 has been flat, at around $230,500 plus or minus a few dollars. Property tax revenue has also been flat except between the 2012 and 2013 tax levies when the village levied $8,000 to pay the principal and interest that was due on the truck loan in 2014.

Of the 2017 tax levy collected in 2018, 49 percent was from the local school ($207,536); 39 percent was from the county ($163,734); six percent from the technical college ($27,171); six percent from the village ($25,649); and zero percent from the state.

The village’s equalized property value saw a slight downward trend between 2012 to 2014, and then a steady increase between 2015 and 2017. This has resulted in an overall increase in the equalized value of property of five percent.

The village expenditures in 2017 were 31 percent public safety ($161,299); 24 percent culture and recreation ($128,540); 21 percent public works ($111,022); 20 percnt general government ($104,750); four percent conservation and development ($22,867); and zero percent capital outlay ($905).

The village’s enterprise funds – water and sewer – both experienced a negative net position change, for a  total of $2,530 down for water, and $45,038 down for sewer. Both have experienced a downward trend between 2012 and 2017.

The auditor’s comment is that the utilities have undertaken capital projects and have not had full rate adjustments for some time. They recommend that consideration be given to filing a rate increase application with the Public Service Commission that would allow the water utility to earn its allowed rate of return, and the sewer fund should look at a more significant rate increase than in prior years.

The village has a balance of unfunded retirement liabilities of $123,667. Their general obligation debt limitation is $1,115,160, and their current debt subject to limitation was $316,143. This means that the village has 72 percent of their debt capacity remaining. For this reason, the auditor suggested the village consider taking out a loan to pay the unfunded retirement liability to avoid the annual two percent increase from the state, which will result in a net savings for the village. This proposal will be taken up at a future board meeting.

The board voted to accept the report as presented.

In other business, the board:

* heard that the Fire Department had elected Roger Olson chief; Shane Chapman first assistant; Charley Strait second assistant; Angie Visgar secretary; and Tammy Kepler treasurer. 

* heard that Thomas Turben is a new member of the fire department.

* agreed to donate  $100 to the American Legion Thanksgiving Dinner, and $100 to Santa Claus

* heard that the fire department has identified the recipients for the Ryan Campbell flood relief donations, and just needs Tammy to write the checks

* heard that the fire department Christmas party will take place on December 8 at the American Legion

* heard that Director of Public Works Brian Copus had a visit from the DNR engineer and that “all seemed good”

* agreed to contact Jim Showen about the project to raze and remove the house at 100 Prospect Street

* heard that Paul and Liz Bransky had been appointed to the library board

* agreed to award the 2018 audit contract to the same firm as for 2017

* agreed to hold a 2019 budget hearing at 6:15 p.m. before the December board meeting

* approved a liquor license for the Desperados Bar & Grill