Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1042005

Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 30, 2014

City ends budget year ahead

By David Hotle | Aug 09, 2013

After the end of the 2013 fiscal year on June 30, Washington city officials learned that two funds that had run in deficits in the past ended this year with healthy surpluses.
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said today that the general fund is $589,000 ahead. The water fund is $635,000 ahead. The total fund balances are up close to $1.5 million. Hinson also said he expects steady improvement from the funds.
“We had very good results,” he said. “Of course, we have been working here over the last couple of years to get our finances straightened out and on a positive path.”
He said there are a lot of reasons for the balances. Hinson cited the help of department heads, budgetary control and the restriction of some capital purchases.
Hinson said the city is working on a capital equipment plan that will be sustainable in the budget.
On June 30, 2011, the city had a deficit of $435,000 in the general fund. The water fund debt was $322,000.
“We did not have anything close to adequate fund balances,” Hinson said. “We had actually contacted Washington State Bank to get a short-term loan because of cash flow.”
He said the city gets the majority of property taxes in April and October and the city was in danger of running out of cash-on-hand. Hinson said the city is really far from that. He said there had been a deficit where the city was offering more services than it was charging for. In some cases, he said, money was borrowed from the general fund and not repaid.
Since that time, Hinson said the city has become more “fiscally disciplined” and straightened out some of the problems in the budget. He said for the past two years the city council has addressed issues designed to partially improve the situation.
Also in the future, the city will spend down $1.9 million in bond funds over two years to build a new ground storage reservoir and a new water tower. He said some of the fund balances would be drawn down, but the bottom line of how far ahead the city is, Hinson expects to continue to rise.
“We have looked very carefully at the financial situation and have gotten in order all the things that need to be so that we don’t have distortions in the funds,” he said. “We know where we stand financially and the accounting has improved. Also, when we are doing our projects, we know what the financial impact will be.”

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