The City of Winlock is in the first two months of the 2019 budget and there are concerns that need to be raised. The city has several different funds; for example; street, water and sewer, general, bridge and a few others. This article concentrates on the main funds that the city uses for daily operations.
In reviewing the first two months, the general, street, water and sewer funds had more expenditures than revenue.
General Fund: The general fund had revenues of $70,047; expenditures were $116,605; making the difference $-46,558. The general fund balance is down to approximately $50,000, decreasing monthly by at least $23,000. At this rate the general fund will be depleted in just over 2 months.
Street Fund: The street fund had revenues of $47,736; expenditures were $73,935; making the difference $-26,199. This fund will run in the negative until property taxes are received.
Water and Sewer Fund: The water/sewer fund had revenues of $173,541, expenditures were $212,588, making the difference $-39,047. With the majority of the revenue coming from water and sewer sales.
With these three funds alone, this is a two month shortfall of $-111,804. This is a shortfall that Winlock can't afford.
The main financial issue is the number of employees, full and part time. There are a total of 16 city employees as of the end of January. The approximate cost of 16 employees annually is $705,348 with benefits, this includes the police department. Of the 16 employees, 6 are part time. The amount of overtime paid to the police department alone in 2018 was over $15,000.
The general fund has more expenditures than revenue. We now have more office staff and a police department. The 2019 budget for the entire police department, including additional services, such as dispatch and a newer police vehicle is $230,265 jail services not included. This is a huge difference compared to what was being paid during the Winlock-Toledo Interlocal agreement. During interlocal agreement, Winlock had 20 hours of coverage per day for a total of 140 for the week, Winlock now has coverage 76 hours a week.
The City of Winlock was paying Toledo $217,000 per year for their services, 4 officers at 140 hours per week. The average wage for the Winlock-Toledo Inter-local agreement was $29.81/hr. Winlock Police Department with 76 hours of coverage per week, means the citizens are paying $58.27/hour; along with an apartment for the second officer. Winlock citizens are paying twice the hourly rate for approximately half of the services. This is what your Winlock City Council has approved.
Mayor Bradshaw has mentioned a 3rd officer. If the citizens of Winlock do not want the city council to hire a third officer they must voice their opinion. Winlock City Council meetings are held the 2nd and 4th Mondays of every month at 6:30pm, this is the time for your voice to be heard. You can also call, write a letter or message your city council members individually. The City of Winlock does not have the funds for a third officer per the recent report for the first two months.
It appears that the City Council has decided that it does not need to understand the financial well being of the city as the report they are presently receiving does not explain revenue and expenses. In December 2018, Winlock City Council placed a spending moratorium on the city, along with a spending limit for the Mayor of $25.00 per day over daily expenses. Again, the city council has failed to follow the terms that they committed to and that was to watch over the finances. The moratorium and spending limits have not been lifted, but the city council have yet to enforce their decision. Therefore, spending continues and the citizens are paying for it.
The street fund is currently running in the negative because the city has not received monies for property taxes. It is not legal for a city to continually run a fund in the negative, but with the current financial shape of the city, it appears there are no other options.
The street, water and sewer funds receive grants throughout the year typically. Although only one grant was received in 2018, a matching grant for a total of $60,000 for solar panels, which is a capital improvement to the sewer plant. The matching grant portion is for the sewer-water plant and would typically come out of the water sewer capital improvement fund but the current balance is $0.00
The water and sewer monies have always had issues due to the debt that is approximately $5,000,000. It has never been a money maker for the city and with continual repairs, it doesn't appear as though it will be a source of revenue in the future. Most municipalities only make between 3-4% maximum on their water and sewer funds. Water and sewer will never contribute to the financial health of the city.
The main concern is the general fund, with expenditures far exceeding the revenues, changes need to be made. The majority of city council does not get adequate financial information to make informed decisions, therefore, uncontrolled spending will continue.
Winlock citizens should be making a stand or before too long the City of Winlock will be bankrupt.