By CHRISTIN COYNE
For the first time in the memory of city staff, the City of Willow Park has a written document outlining the city’s financial policies, one of a couple steps the city council took recently to improve its financial practices.
The council unanimously adopted the document June 10.
“The safety and transparency of [the] public’s funds are of the utmost importance to the city,” City Administrator Matt Shaffstall wrote in a memo to the council. “These financial policies were written to increase staff’s level of accountability in handling public funds.”
Prior to adoption, the city had policies that were inconsistent, unwritten and scattered in different locations, according to staff.
Staff wrote the policies to comply with state law, basing them on best practice guidelines from the Government Finance Officers Association and Governmment Treasurers Association of Texas, according to Shaffstall.
The document covers a variety of areas, from requiring that an annual audit be presented to the council by the auditing firm to setting a fund balance policy.
“Essentially this financial policy does a couple things,” Shaffstall said. “It sets some goals in how we should be managing our money and how we should lay it out and tries to take it across the board from where do we keep our money [to] how much should we be keeping.”
The policy states that the city should set a target of a 90-day fund balance in accounts and sets triggers if it dips below that, the city administrator said.
If a fund dips below the 75-day mark, the city administrator must notify the council.
“At the same time it also says you shouldn’t have too much money, which right now is an issue,” Shaffstall said, adding that the city only needs a 90-day operating balance and currently has a 200-day balance, something the council is expected to address during the budget process later this summer.
If the city has more fund balance than the maximum, the policy lays out how that should be handled, he said. The guidelines describe when excess monies in one area should be transferred into cash reserves, investments or the city’s capital improvement account or another account.
It may be better to put money into streets rather than holding it in cash, he said.
The council also adopted an investment policy that brought it up to date with the Public Funds Investment Act.
Additions to the former policy include statements relating to investment parameters, requirements to be an approved broker.
The council also received a report from Daniel Hungerford of George, Morgan & Sneed, P.C., which performed the annual audit of the city’s books.
“In the report, we have an unmodified, clean opinion,” Hungerford said.
The auditors did have three findings in the report on internal control and compliance and issued a management letter with six opportunities to strengthen the city’s internal control, according to Hungerford.
The audit, performed by a different company than the one used by the city in prior years, was a significant improvement over what the city has had in the past, Mayor Richard Neverdousky said.
“We really enjoyed working together because it forced the city to tighten up a couple of things and improve its recordkeeping and, also, force us to kind of start looking into some areas that we hadn’t looked into,” Shaffstall said, adding that it was a good process all-around for the city to go through.
By CHRISTIN COYNE
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