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Viewpoint: City of Newport is making financial gains

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opinion Cottage Grove, 55016

Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

As many of you know, our national and state economy has not been in the greatest shape over the last several years, yet over the last three years Newport has improved its operations and financial position considerably.

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The auditors have completed their work and the numbers are in for 2011 and the audit report will be available on the city's website by mid-April. I encourage you to look it over.

Newport's financial position is strong and will continue to get even better. As of December 2009, the city's general fund balance was $779,527. In December 2011 our general fund balance was $1,352,624. This is a 73 percent increase in our fund balance in just two years.

The city has been planning for the eventual elimination of Local Government Aid (LGA). The goal is to be able to run city operations without depending on LGA and not having to raise taxes to fill the gap. I am happy to report that we are well on our way to achieving this goal.

Since January 2009, Newport has reduced staff by four positions -- one police officer, one public works position and two office staff. I know this has been a difficult transition for city staff and I want to thank them for their commitment and dedication to continue to provide the highest level of service to our residents and businesses. I want to also thank the City Council for their efforts in working together to achieve our goals.

Because of everyone's efforts and the efficiencies gained, Newport is now able to set aside funds for reinvestment in the city. Our goal is to set aside funds for economic development and we have made progress in this area as well. In December 2009, the city's economic development fund had a balance of $177,616. As of December 2011 our economic development fund had a balance in excess of $500,000 and it is projected to be in excess of $775,000 by the end of 2012.

I would also like to point out that last October, Newport issued general obligation bonds and received an upgrade from an A3 to an A1 rating from Moody's rating service. Moody's said the following regarding the City's financial situation: "Stable financial reserve levels and trends that reflect management's pro-active approach to multi-year financial planning."

Moody's also made the following statement about the city's financial operations: "Stable financial operations supported by satisfactory reserve levels and prudent budgeting practices."

The city has made efforts to provide the public with financial information. I encourage the public to visit our website to review our financial data. The website is www.ci.newport.mn.us; click on the budget and finance tab. If you do not have web access, visit the Newport Library for free access. Please contact me directly with any questions or concerns.

Tim Geraghty is Newport mayor

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