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St. Paul Park city audit comes up clean

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News Cottage Grove,Minnesota 55016 http://www.swcbulletin.com/sites/all/themes/swcbulletin_theme/images/social_default_image.png
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St. Paul Park city audit comes up clean
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

The fiscal year 2012 for St. Paul Park was one of increased revenue and decreased expenditures, which correlated to an "unqualified" or clean audit report.

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The city received the official numbers last week when a representative for Smith, Schafer and Associates accounting firm summarized the annual audit. The representative praised the work of Financial Officer Kim Sommerland saying she was "very forthcoming and we had no issues and no concerns when performing the audit."

Property tax revenue has increased for the last several years and grew 19 percent from $1.8 million in 2008 to $2.16 in 2012 due to increases in both levied taxes and a Twin Cities property tax disbursement program. In 2012, property tax revenues represented about 48 percent of the governmental revenues, excluding transfers and bond proceeds.

Local Government Aid, which represents only 3.2 percent of the city's overall revenues, has been flat for the last three years and totaled $143,000 in 2012.

Governmental funds overall have been on the rise, with the bulk of the increase due to higher property tax revenue and an increased levy, as well as the issuance of Federal Emergency Management Agency grants. The FEMA grants allowed St. Paul Park to expend capital outlay in public safety resources and the parks system.

General governmental expenditures decreased slightly to $481,000 in 2012, a roughly 2 percent decrease from 2011, which was due to reductions in contracted professional services and donations received. And according to the audit, 18.4 percent of governmental expenditures, excluding capital projects and debt services, are the salaries of the mayor, city council, administration, accounting services, attorney's fees and other general government positions.

Representing about half of the total city expenditures is the public safety department, which increased costs to $1.29 million in 2012, up from $73,000 in 2011, which is due to a wage increase to firefighters and the purchase of boat motors for the department's rescue squad.

Highway and street improvements made up approximately 20 percent of the total governmental expenditures, costing the city $511,000 in 2012, a 1 percent increase from 2011.

The city's reserve fund was also deemed healthy and currently sits at $1.575 million, or 63 percent of total expenditures, in 2012, another increase from 59 percent in 2011. In Minnesota, the state auditor's recommendation is 35 to 50 percent in unreserved funds. Council member Sandy Dingle asked if the city was setting aside too much money but was told that 63 percent was not uncommon.

Debt service and outstanding bonds is just under $4.1 million at the end of 2012.

With the adoption of new accounting practices according to the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, the accounting firm representative said "we didn't come into contact with any difficulties in performing the audit."

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Emily Buss
Emily Buss joined the South Washington County Bulletin in February 2013. She covers local government in Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Newport, along with other general assignment reporting. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
(651) 459-4629
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