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Audit clean, city still looks to cut spending



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November 25, 2009 - Difficult decisions are coming to Clarkston, according to City Manager Dennis Ritter.

"Nothing is sacred," Ritter said. "We have to look at every single expenditure of every department."

As home values drop, so will property tax income, which Ritter said will cause considerable reductions in the 2010-2011 budgets. He hopes revenues level out for the 2012-2013 budget.

Ritter said the city needs to look into contracting out services.

"I don't think it should happen just because we have to. It should happen because it makes sense, but there are circumstances where we might have to cut in order to provide the service," he said.

Due to water installation projects and road improvements, the city owes $3,602,323 in bond payments. Ritter wants to reduce the bond rate by reissuing new bonds, at lower interest rates.

"Personally I feel it's an obligation to analyze that and review it," he said. "We want to minimize the expense to the taxpayer."

The city's 2009 audit had no "significant deficiencies," he said.

"We're doing what we're supposed to be doing from a bookkeeping standpoint," he said. " The 2010 audit is going to be even cleaner. That's the objective. Jan (Gillespie, treasurer/clerk) just has to do some tweaking and we're going to be in great shape."

Auditors recommend the city produce a manual on office/accounting procedures, in case a key employee is not available. The city has requested examples of two other communities' manuals, so they can prepare a document that meets their request.

"Once we write it, we'll send it over to them to review and see what kind of recommendations they have," he said.

Out of the whole $378,235 general fund balance, Ritter said only $121,806 is unrestricted. The other $256,429 is in designated reserves. He noted the general fund had increased by $24,799 since 2008.

"Our objective is to continue to advance the fund balance and one method is to reduce spending wherever you can," he said. "Expand shared services with other communities, and pray for a mild winter."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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