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Auditor says city of Woodbury is getting more, spending less

The City of Woodbury passed its recent 2014 audit with flying colors, according to independent auditor Matt Mayer of the firm, Bergen KDV.

Mayer attended the Aug. 12 Woodbury City Council meeting to share highlights of the audit with city officials. 

The city prepares the financial statements for review on an annual basis. An independent auditor comes in to examine the documents, and give an opinion on the city’s financial position, Mayer said.

After reviewing Woodbury’s documents, Mayer gave the city a “clean” opinion.

“That’s the best opinion we can give the city,” he said. “It means that the numbers in your comprehensive financial report are materially accurate, they’re a true picture of the financial position of the city, as well as the results of operations for the year.”

Mayer said Woodbury goes well beyond the base level requirements by preparing a comprehensive annual report. Past documents have been so thorough, Woodbury received the Certificate for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 2013. Mayer said he is confident the city will receive the same award for the 2014 report. 

Auditors dig into the areas of internal control and compliance, Mayer said. If there are any findings in either area, the auditors are required to report those findings to the city council. No issues were found in either category.

The auditors also use a set of parameters that are set by the state auditor. These rules look at whether the city follows the rules that are set by the state, how the city does with contracting and bidding, and making sure there are no signs of conflict of interest. Again, Mayer said, there were no issues.

“(It is) an extremely clean audit for the 2014 fiscal year. Clean opinion on the financial statements, no compliance or internal control findings for 2014. It couldn’t get much better than that,” Mayer said. 

Mayer also provided what he called “three pieces of financial perspective” for the city council — the taxing activity, the revenue, and the spending per capita, in the city of Woodbury.

The taxing activity, or tax level, evaluates the tax burden on the taxpayers, and is set through the tax capacity rate.That number went down from 2013 to 2014 by about 1½ percent, Mayer said, from 39.4 to 38.08. By comparison to the seven-county metro area, a typical city in the metro area is at about 8 percent higher, around the 46 percent range, he said. 

Revenue covers where the dollars are being collected to service the government operations of the city, Mayer said. This includes things like property taxes, special assessments, charges for services and so on.

For 2013, the city of Woodbury collected $847 per person, or, Mayer said, per capita. By comparison with other Minnesota cities that have a population of 20,000 to 100,000, Woodbury comes in about $30 less per capita. 

The property tax levy is similar to other cities, he said. As a developing city, Woodbury does have more special assessment revenue coming in, about $209 per capita, than most communities. But at the same time, Woodbury does not receive the intergovernmental revenue — like state or federal aid — that many cities do receive.

When looking at the cost of city services, Mayer said auditors look at current spending, capital outlay and construction, and debt service.

Current spending essentially covers what it costs to run the city on an everyday basis. Operating funds, salaries, supplies and more are included in this category. In 2013, Woodbury spent about $506 per capita. The average is $604, Mayer said.

“So Woodbury spends almost $100 less, on the average, when it came to the everyday functions of government,” Mayer said. 

Woodbury did spend more in the area of capital outlay and construction, which includes things like roads and utilities. 

“It’s going to fluctuate from year to year, but again, you’re in a development mode,” Mayer said. “You spend about $373 per capita. A typical city of your size, about $232.” 

But Woodbury is also under the average when it comes to debt service funds. The average in Woodbury is $104 per capita for the year to service the bond indebtedness, Mayer said. The average across the state is $148.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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