Wyoming City Council made a change to its budget accounting approach at its Tuesday, June 2, meeting.
Council approved transferring its capital improvement funds into a single capital project fund. Hannah Lynch of AEM Financial Services, the city’s financial director, explained that previously the city had five different funds from which it could draw for capital equipment purchases: one apiece for the Fire Department, Police Department, Park Department, Streets and General Administration.
“All of these funds, generally speaking, have similar revenue sources, so putting it in one fund goes along with the best practices of other cities,” Lynch said. “This also will aid us to analyze capital equipment as a whole rather than analyzing capital equipment for each department separately.”
Lynch also noted the city has a General Capital Project Fund that has $189,905 of cash in it – and has not been utilized since before 2014.
“We believe that repurposing that fund for capital equipment will best utilize that $189,000 of reserves for purchasing capital improvement projects moving forward,” she said.
Mayor Lisa Iverson asked Lynch if there were any concerns regarding auditors approving or opposing the change.
“Auditors are excited to make that change going forward,” Lynch answered. “They recommend it for financial reporting transparency.”
Council member Linda Nanko-Yeager asked for an explanation of how consolidating the funds provides more transparency, noting that a few years back the city consolidated its park funds, only to separate them soon after.
“I thought about that just before this meeting, and there is a difference,” Lynch said. “If you think back to the park separation, what made consolidating them difficult was that the different park revenues were restricted for use for different purposes, so it gets difficult to separate them.
“In this instance, most of these capital items are purchased by a tax levy. It’s really all the same type of expenditure.”
Council approved the move 4-1, with Nanko-Yeager opposed.
COVID-19 concerns continue
Council continued its preparations to reopen city services and other local entities following the closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Wyoming Library, part of the East Central Regional Library, asked for input from council about its plans to reopen. Council member Dennis Schilling approved the reopening on the condition that the library follow the maximum occupancy guidelines, while council member Claire Luger agreed.
“I’d like to see 6-foot distances from patrons as well as the plastic barriers we’re seeing in establishments that are open,” Luger said. “I wonder if librarians and patrons will be wearing masks, and I hope the library is providing gloves to improve safety.”
Council member Joe Zerwas disagreed with the plan to open quickly, saying, “As much as I would like to see libraries open, I think it’s premature to open them at this point.”
Council also presented a Business Preparedness Plan to reopen city facilities.
“We’ve tried to follow recommendations from the CDC, the Minnesota Department of Health and the governor’s office to move forward through this,” assistant city administrator Kelly Dumais said. “Our priority is ensuring the safety of our staff and visitors to our facilities.”
The plan includes handwashing, respiratory etiquette, use of facemasks, social distancing, and other elements.
Zerwas asked if city meetings would continue online or return to a face-to-face format.
“For now we’re going to continue with virtual meetings,” Dumais said. “For example, City Council has more than 10 participants, and we really want to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people. We’re going to encourage virtual meetings, but if the meeting is less than 10, they could meet in person.”