2014 audit shows lots of money moving around Jax government

By Gary Scott on June 24, 2015 at 9:06am

Downtown construction, water-sewer projects and pensions were the three main topics during the presentation of the Fiscal Year 2014 audit in Jacksonville on Monday.

Adam Withee of Zumbahlen, Eyth, Surratt, Foote and Flynn made the presentation to City Council. He explained that the city’s sales tax revenue is increasing, and that the city remains within the three-to-six-month cash reserve total that is recommended for all Illinois municipalities.

Withee added that the city is still bringing in more money than it’s spending, but notes that there was a large amount of cash moving around as a result of the spending the city did last year on, among other things, renovating the north end of the square, dredging Lake Mauivisterre and work on the new water treatment plant.

Jacksonville Treasurer Ron Smiljanich.

“We pay bills mostly out of the General Fund, and when we move $2 million from lake reclamation to the General Fund, it skews that number and we pay out $2 million out of the General Fund… it’s an in-and-out transaction that accountants look at different than we do on a day-to-day basis,” says Smiljanich.

“I think he was basically saying the numbers look bigger and odder because of paying for the downtown, paying for the dredging of the lake, those numbers look odd.”

Withee also talked about a new state law regarding pensions that will require municipalities to get their own actuarial statement, meaning the state will no longer figure out for them what needs to be contributed to the pension.

Smiljanich says the state wants more transparency.

“In other words, that they know that if you’re 60 percent funded, what does that mean in terms of dollars? An actuarial report will give us that information,” he says.

“Unfunded doesn’t mean not able to pay current pension payments and so forth. The state passed a law a couple years ago that made the fire and police pensions require them to be 90 percent funded by the year 2040. So, they’re looking at this way down the road,” Smiljanich continues.

Unfunded liability numbers for the Jacksonville Police and Fire Departments for Fiscal Year 2014 won’t be available until later this year, but Smiljanich says the funding level is 72 percent, which is consistent with previous years.

According to the audit, the most recent numbers from FY2013 indicate the police fund liability was at $9.8-million, which is up nearly a million dollars from the previous year. The fire fund liability was at $7-million, which is a slight increase of around $200,000.

Withee also told City Council on Monday that the city has no problems with internal controls.

Correction to this story: The state will still do an actuarial report, but it will be the obligation of local municipalities. The state’s report will not provide some information that a new rule through the Governmental Accounting Standards Board requires.