City fund reconcilation: Councilor satisfied with transfer explanations

Reviewing six fund transfers line by line, a Wapakoneta City Council member says he is satisfied with the reasons for the requests, but he and a city administrator say they would like to see more detail in the memo that typically accompanies the proposed legislation.

1st Ward Councilor Jim Neumeier said he received the answers he needed from city Auditor Gail Walter to understand the reason behind six separate fund transfers as part of an ordinance that came before councilors during Monday’s meeting.

He and Councilor-at-large Thomas Finkelmeier Jr., both members of the Finance Committee, voted Monday against suspending the rule of three readings so they could learn more about the transfers and how the transfers would affect an already tight budget.

After Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting, Neumeier said all the transfers proved legitimate, noting his main concern is that he and his fellow councilors need to know the reasons for the transfers, the health of the budget and they need time to ask questions regarding the transfers.

“Receiving the councilor’s packet including supplemental appropriations on Friday night and being expected to vote on it on Monday night is ridiculous unless it is truly an emergency situation,” Neumeier said after the meeting, providing an example of natural catastrophe in the city as a legitimate emergency.

He suggested receiving information regarding future supplemental appropriation ordinances a couple of days earlier would help because he and other councilors would have a chance to question Walter and city administrators about the transfers.

He also is not against suspending the rule of three readings at the second reading, but he said he believes they should be given at least a couple of days or at least one meeting to consider the legislation.

The suspension of three readings would reduce the length of an ordinance being enacted by approximately seven weeks, he explained. Passing legislation as emergency waives the 30-day period after passage for the ordinance to go into effect. An ordinance passed as an emergency goes into effect immediately.

“There is no way we should be denying the proper time to consider these pieces of legislation,” Neumeier said.

Of the six transfers requested by Walter, he said only two required any type of immediate action. All the transfers would carry the budget through the end of the year and no additional transfers would be expected prior to the closing of the books on Dec. 31.

Neumeier also would like to track the funds so he can maintain a more accurate spreadsheet on the city’s finances. The city general fund totaled $5.4 million, using much of the year’s cash carryover. The Enterprise Funds, which consist of Electric, Water and Sewer funds, are self-supporting.

“When we make supplemental appropriations, I want that spreadsheet during the year to reflect exactly what we have appropriated and it doesn’t,” Neumeier said regarding the spreadsheet used in January and February to establish the city budget. “I would like that and I would like to have the memo to have more information. Like when it says supplies, I would like it explained why we need more supplies.”

He continued to voice concern regarding a couple of supplementals because it spends the funds entire contingency, or cash carryover, and expenses in the city Engineering Department fund may be using money that was set aside for computers and equipment needed by that department.

Finkelmeier agreed with Neumeier and believed his fellow councilor was vetting the situation appropriately.

Walter explained she reconciles the financial books and suggests what line items and accounts can be used for the transfer of money, but the mayor and safety-service director also must sign off on purchase orders and councilors must approve most fund transfers. She said the mayor and safety-service director should have an idea why the transfers are needed.

Mayor Rodney Metz, who attended Thursday’s two hour meeting, said Walter “did a very good job” in explaining the reasons for the transfers. He agreed with Neumeier that more time is needed for councilors’ consideration and more information should be included in the memo to help councilors make an informed decision.

“I think we should be moving forward in a direction that helps Jim and all the councilors,” Metz said. “I think the more time we give councilors to review the transfers is a good thing and provides an opportunity for people to ask questions and make inquiries if they have any.

“I think it will give everybody a chance to look at their budget sheets longer and do the research they feel is necessary — having more time is better,” the mayor said. “We also need to plan ahead a little bit more, but there will always be emergencies we cannot catch and we will need to move quickly on.”