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Audit: Airport sale gave New York Mills fiscal boost

A recent audit revealed increased savings and lower debt for the city of New York Mills.

Brian Stavenger of Eide Bailly presented the findings at the April city council meeting. He said the selling of airport land really helped the city's numbers last year.

According to the executive summary report, unreserved funds increased 11 percent from 2010 - to 68.8 percent in 2011.

Stavenger said this increase brings the city's reserves above what the Minnesota Office of the State Auditor recommends - that at year-end, local governments should maintain 35 to 50 percent of undetermined funds.

These unreserved funds would keep the city afloat if all revenues stopped, Stavenger explained. If the city had 100 percent unreserved funds, it could survive without revenue for one year.

Stavenger said the audit also showed NY Mills continues to have a large amount of long-term debt - the city owes $6,469 per citizen - largely because of bond projects for street improvements, sewer upgrades and the painting of the water tower.

While still high, the long-term debt lowered $400 per citizen in 2011.

Overall, Eide Bailly offered a positive opinion of the financial status of the city.

However, the firm found the city lacked "segregation of duties." According to the audit report, "a good system of internal control requires an adequate segregation of duties so that no one individual has incompatible responsibilities."

Stavenger said most cities of this size have that problem.

In a follow-up interview, City Clerk Darla Berry said the city is cited with that every year, but it isn't financially feasible to hire more employees.

In other news during the city council meeting:

-The cultural center was awarded a $15,000 Small Cities Program Income Grant. The money will help pay for a roof replacement on the creamery building.

-A Simple Pine Box and Sugar Creek Woodworking received their second Small Cities Program Income Grant of $4,000 to help complete the wiring in their new building. They also received grant funding last year.