A public hearing was held in Audubon Monday night with regard to the proposed Fiscal Year 2015 City Budget, which was eventually approved, but not without some reservations. During the hearing, Barb Jacobs asked several questions. She pointed out, and City Clerk Lora Hansen confirmed, that in the worst case scenario, the City would be operating at a nearly $500-thousand dollar loss. The re-estimated FY 2014 budget shows an estimated loss of revenue amounting to approximately $388,517.
The budget summary provided by Hansen, and read by Jacobs, also says the City will be operating in the red for FY 2016, if it stays on its current course. Those figures also raised the eyebrows of Councilman Tom Nielsen. The beginning balance at the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st will be $976,704. The City will have an operating loss of $497, 400, which leaves a beginning the following year of $479,400. Nielsen said if they “Don’t do some radical changes,” the City “Probably cannot get through Fiscal Year 2016.”
Nielsen said the City has some “Serious financial problems.” He said the only reason he voted for it was so that it could be submitted to the State by the March 17th deadline. After that, the budget can be amended downward, but in the mean while, he suggested the City seek help in getting it’s financial house in order. Nielsen said he doesn’t know how the City could possibly find the half-million dollars it needs before the budget deadline. He suggested the City meet its auditing firm in a work session and get the “Very scary” situation corrected. Nielsen said “It sucks” to be $500-thousand dollars in the hole.
He said he’s also bothered by the fact the City’s obligation bonds are 5-percent of taxable assessed valuations, and they’re current outstanding to the tune of 3.434-percent, so they’ve used up most of the available funds from the bonds. To top it off, he says the town needs to get serious about fixing its crumbling infrastructure in terms of streets, sewer lines and water lines.