Auditor says Madras is in good financial shape
The city of Madras and the Madras Urban Renewal Agency are in good financial shape, the city's auditor told the City Council and the Madras Redevelopment Commission in their separate meetings Tuesday, March 10.
Brad Bingenheimer, of Boldt Carlisle and Smith, told the commission that there were no issues with its audit of the Urban Renewal Agency's fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019.
The agency, which is a smaller part of the city but is required to have its own audit, has assets of around $820,000 and liabilities of nearly $2.3 million.
"This is pretty typical for urban renewal agencies," Bingenheimer said. "They are by their design supposed to have debts."
Tax revenues from the Urban Renewal District have been slowly creeping up over the past five years, and its net position increased by $162,586, Bingenheimer said, adding that the trends are "doing exactly what we'd expect."
He said it is good to see that the expenditures are going up because the money is going to economic development and to paying down debt.
He said the finances show "good growth for the urban renewal activity itself."
The city had two small issues.
The published budget summary didn't entirely agree with the actual budget.
"A pretty small finding," Bingenheimer said, "so nothing that I would be too concerned about."
Finance Director Kristal Hughes said there is a formula error in her software, so she will find it and correct it.
The other issue is that utility billing requires some manual entry of information. The city is in compliance with state and federal laws, but Bingenheimer said anytime data has to be manipulated, there is a risk of errors.
He added that he knows the city is considering water meters that will be read by radio, "which would definitely reduce the chance of error in that system."
The City Council approved a corrective action plan.
Hughes told the council that her department will continue to look for better controls, but because Deschutes Valley Water District provides the water for half of the city's customers, some manual data entry will have to continue. She said the city will be getting more data from DVWD, but some manual processes are inevitable.
Bingenheimer reported that the city has $78.5 million in total assets and deferred outflows and liabilities of $24.9 million, with a $4.4 million change in net position, "so overall positive development in the net position," he said.
The general fund has been growing a little each year, as have the special funds.
While some funds rise and fall because of major expenditures, such as improvements at the airport, the overall picture is of slow, steady growth, which Bingheneimer again said is good to see.
"I just wanted to thank Kristal and city staff for working on a budget that's come up pretty clean," Councilor Royce Embanks said. "You did a great job, so thank you."
Hughes, in turn, praised the Public Works staff, saying they manage millions of dollars in grants.
"It's not just the finance department by any stretch of the imagination," she said.
"Kristal, we went through that audit very quickly," Councilor Bartt Brick said, "but it can't go unspoken how complex the city's budget is. That's hard work, and I appreciate it."
Sahalee Park restroom
In other business, the Madras Redevelopment Commission approved a letter of support for moving the restroom at Sahalee Park.
Public Works Director Jeff Hurd said the city has a $155,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and it wants to leverage that to get other funds for the project. He said the MRC's support would help an application to the Local Government Grant Program.
The City Council later authorized Hurd to apply for a $425,000 grant from the program. That grant requires a 60/40 match, and the city's other grant and an additional $15,500 covers the requirement.
If the city gets the funds, it "will allow the city to demolish and relocate the existing restroom facility, along with additional sidewalks for access and ADA compliance," Hurd said in his staff report. "The new restroom facility would have additional restroom stalls along with a drinking fountain."
Hurd said he knows the council hopes to add a family room in the new facility. He said he will find out what it would cost and look for additional funding if necessary.
The MRC also approved grant funding of $11,400 for design services for OK Barbershop and $6,500 for Courthouse Square -- an office building at the corner of 2nd and E streets with apartments above.
Both are seeking to make improvements that go beyond the $2,500 staff can approve without going to the MRC, Community Development Director Nick Snead said.
The barbershop wants to make interior and exterior improvements. Courthouse Square is looking to renovate the ground floor for professional offices while keeping the second story residential.
Providing design assistance doesn't mean the MRC would have to help with construction costs, Snead said.
The MRC and City Council approved some housekeeping measures to rename funds and create a line of credit for the city's Housing Urban Renewal District.
The council also approved an amendment to the R-3 and medical overlay zones to allow for apartments, which have been proposed in the Yarrow subdivision and near St. Charles Madras.
Natural gas easement
The council approved an easement for Cascade Natural Gas. The company is installing a new 4-inch gas main from its service station, which is adjacent to the city's well on Seventh Street south of Jefferson Street, Hurd said. "The main will extend up Loucks Road beyond the city to serve residents outside of city limits," he said in his staff report.
The city owns the lots where the company wants to cross, so it requested an easement and would pay $15,007 and attorney's fees to prepare documents. That money will go to the city's water operations fund.
The city also approved an amendment to its Urban Growth Area Management Agreement with Jefferson County, detailing who has jurisdiction over roads in the city's urban growth area and when that jurisdiction shifts from the county to the city.
The council transferred money from its contingency, SDC storm water improvement and water operations funds to cover a match required for a Safe Routes to School project on B Street, which will cover stormwater and water line improvements, as well as new overlay for the street. It also changed the budget to reflect a $500,000 loan from Business Oregon to build the Willowbrook sewer substation.
"This is great news because it helps that subdivision go forward, which is huge" for the city's housing plan, Hughes said.
The city also updated its fiscal policies.
Grant and COVID-19 preparation
The council approved a $750 donation to Living Hope Church for its annual Jefferson County Law Enforcement Banquet.
At the end of the meeting, Snead asked all councilors to hand in their iPads so they could be updated. That was so the city could update them if teleconferencing was needed.
"Thank you for your understanding and patience on this," he said. "We're all doing things a little bit differently."
"Stay safe," Mayor Richard Ladeby concluded. "Follow good sanitation practices."
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