Dowagiac city council hears 2017-18 audit presentation, looks forward to capital improvement projects

Published 9:29 am Wednesday, February 27, 2019

DOWAGIAC — At the Monday evening city council meeting, CPA Jamie Rivette, of Yeo and Yeo CPA’s and Business Consultants, gave a presentation of the city of Dowagiac’s 2017-2018 fiscal year. Through the copious numbers, pie charts, tables and auditor notes, the council was given a stable and optimistic review of the last fiscal year for the city.

“The current economic condition of the city of Dowagiac is stable. The city realizes that local growth has to be moderated due to the influence of regional and national economic trends. The city continues to work diligently to reduce operational costs to match the revenue streams. The city’s economic outlook is positive for the future;” the compiled packet of Dowagiac’s financial statements reads.

The statement reflects what city manager Kevin Anderson believes is true of the last several years within the city.

“The city council has worked hard to make sure our expenses match revenue streams,” Anderson said. “This report says over the last decade we’ve matched levels of service with revenues that are there to keep enough room for capital projects.”

The general fund after the 2017-2018 fiscal year was $791,869, up some $200,000 from the previous fiscal year. In a condensed version of the packet, a chart shows how the general fund has fluctuated from year to year because the city has tackled larger capital improvement projects on a general biyearly basis, Anderson noted. He said the fluctuation is natural, but that the city’s income is steady and positive.

“We’ve consistently averaged where we need to be, and we have a small amount set aside for rainy day. We have a positive cash flow,” Anderson said. “The data suggests that we’re being frugal and forward looking in our utility management.”

The city has made various changes to bring in more revenue while decreasing its spending. Dowagiac has expanded certain utilities to the Pokagon Band, and manages water utility in Penn Township. In house, the City has consolidated various staff positions and also reduced certain grounds maintenance and services.

The City has positioned itself to continue working through a list of capital improvement projects, two of which the city will see progress on in 2019. The Cass Avenue Park is to be constructed along Dowagiac Creek, a project for which the City has substantial grant money. Only about 30 percent of the funding for the project will be paid for by the city. The other major project will be a water main reconstruction along Division Street.

“It’s optimistic that we will have funds set aside for capital projects and continue to do them,” Anderson said. “If you don’t do those as a community, you fade quickly.”

Rivette and Anderson applauded the work of the accounting department for the city.

“[Rivette] spoke of how we have an accounting department that takes its job seriously and is keeping track of data for an audit. That means we have good information on hands on monthly basis. Her comments about the staff and systems means we really have our house in order,” Anderson said.