A Look at the Finance Committee and Municipal Funds | News, Sports, Jobs

On the Marietta City website is a city council calendar filled with committee meetings from each of the seven standing committees.

One of the committees that meets most often is the Finance Committee, chaired by First Ward Councilor Mike Scales. He works closely with City Auditor Sherri Hess and City Treasurer Cathy Harper to make sure the bills are paid and everything is balanced.

Hess said she maintains the city’s books, shows accurate records of money received and spent, and of all city-owned property, as required by Ohio’s revised code. She is also responsible for the city’s payroll, accounts payable, tracking fixed assets and registering cemetery deeds.

“Capital asset tracking is for vehicles or buildings…anything over the $5,000 cost,” said Hess. “I do an asset report every year for the auditor.”

She said there are about 61 operating funds in the city which are constantly updated and monitored.

“It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a lot” said Hess. “We are busy all the time. We have very little downtime here.

She explained that she received money, which went to Harper, who took it to the bank. At the end of the month, Harper balances what the bank says against the city’s books. Harper then reconciles the checks.

The reports are then passed to Scales so he can see the money they have received or spent, which is then shared with the city council.

Scales said in late February that total cash was $20 million, split into a “a myriad of different funds.”

He said the special revenue funds encumbered money as designated by Ohio’s revised code and state auditor.

A report reviewed often is the “statement of cash position” report. It breaks down the different types and subtypes of funds, as well as opening balances, income, expenses, and unspent balances for a certain period.

Basically, it shows how much money is in each fund, what money is in, what money is out, and the ending balance. Each fund type is subtotaled, with a grand total at the end.

For example, Scales showed the cash position report from January to February 25.

¯ The first category of funds is government funds. The first type of fund is the general fund. The closing balance was $1.435 million.

¯ The second section is for special revenue funds, such as the street fund, income tax, recreation, cemetery, fire royalty, and community development. The ending balance of all these funds was $6.523 million.

¯ There was $41,000 in the debt service fund.

¯ According to Scales, the most important type of government funding is capital projects, which include capital improvements, sewage treatment facility upgrades, fire tax funds, and street income tax fund, totaling $2.127 million.

The subtotal for government funds is just over $10 million. All of these funds are reserved for this specific fund and cannot be used elsewhere, Scales explained.

¯ The second category of funds is equity, which includes corporate water and sewer funds. These each have millions of dollars encumbered.

¯ With $190,000 in the trust fund and $24,000 in the agency fund, the grand total for proprietary funds is approximately $20 million.

“The water and sewer service…the reason there’s so much money is that if there’s a problem with the water or sewer line, you don’t just call Roto- Root and have it done”, Scales said. “Some of our lines are so deep…we had a problem on Post Street and it cost us almost $400,000 for a small section. If we don’t have the money to fix it, we can get in trouble with the EPA.

He said if there was a water main break, they also needed the money available to fix it.

“That’s how we come to the $20 million (grand total),” he said. “When we talk about our fundraising, we follow the Ohio Revised Code and it tells us what we do and can’t do. One thing we cannot do is take one of the funds and transfer it willy-nilly to the general fund to help it.

On the city budget are the Municipal Court and Marietta/Belpre Health Department.

“These are two entities that fall under the jurisdiction of the city, but they have their own funds included in the total budget of the city of Marietta”, he explained. “The revised Ohio code says to do it.”

When you look at the general fund, probably 87% is spent on salaries and benefits and 3 or 4% on operating supplies such as utilities or police or fire needs, he said.

Scales said that looking at 87% of benefits and salaries, about half of that goes to police and fire departments.

“We have to make everything work” he said.

Michele Newbanks can be contacted at [email protected]

In one look :

¯ This is the first in a series looking back at how things work in the county.

¯ Marietta City’s finance president and auditor explain how the city’s finances work.

¯ Others in the series may include broadband, American Rescue Plan Act funds, and the Washington County Sewer Project.

Source: Times research.

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