Councilor pushes city to prepare for vacancy

In the final three months of his term, Wapakoneta Councilor-at-large Wilbur Wells is preparing for his eventual departure as a city elected official.
During Monday’s abbreviated Wapakoneta City Council meeting, Wells asked to meet with Council President Steve Henderson and Mayor Rodney Metz regarding his replacement as chair of council’s Finance Committee and the selection of a new member to the panel.
“I think the transition from me as chair to the new chair and to the new members of the Finance Committee should go pretty smooth,” said Wells, who was first elected to council in 1997. “I think the budget process we implemented last year should be very helpful, and there are still two members of my committee who are very knowledgeable so the budget process in the future should go very smooth.”
The remaining two councilors on his committee are 1st Ward Councilor Jim Neumeier and 3rd Ward Councilor Bonnie Wurst.
Wells, who is not seeking re-election after seven terms to spend more time with his family, is being replaced by 4th Ward Councilor Dan Graf. Graf, along with Councilors-at-large Steve Walter and Tom Finkelmeier Jr. are running unopposed.
Wapakoneta resident Chad Doll is running unopposed for the 4th Ward seat.
Wells told Henderson and Metz that he would like a person named in the next month since he intends to start the 2012 budget process in November and have it concluded by the end of December. This would enable his replacement on the committee to experience the budget process, which includes reviewing expenditures and estimating revenues.
Wells, who previously worked as an accountant for Siemens in Bellefontaine and now works as an accountant for Cargill in Sidney, said his accounting degree has helped him with overseeing the city’s annual budget and analyzing expenses and revenues throughout the year.
“I think the degree has helped because now we have to audit the city’s financial statements each quarter and a person needs to have at least a general knowledge of debits and credits,” Wells told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “The new chair and the new committee members also need to have a willingness to learn how the funds operate and the difference between the Enterprise funds and the General Fund and where the revenues come from and where they go.
“They also will learn that the administration does a nice job talking with the department heads about the budgets for their departments,” he said. “The administration also does a nice job with determining capital expenditures.”
Reflecting on the past decade as Finance Committee chair, Wells noted government accounting practices are moving to more closely resemble corporate accounting.
He pointed out his approach to the city’s finances has not changed through the years.
He said he has always approached the budget process with the philosophy of having city administrators estimate revenue as less than expected and expenses more than anticipated so the budget would be balanced in the case the economy causes revenues to drop unexpectedly or an unexpected expense arises.
“I’ve also always approached the city’s budget as if it was my money being spent,” said Wells, who also serves as a member of the Utilities Committee and the Parks and Recreation Committee. “I have always asked myself would I spend this money if this was my personal budget, if I was preparing a budget for my own home — that I think is a key to overseeing the city budget.”