General fund balance grew slightly in FY 2020

By Chad Koenen


The New York Mills City Council received some positive news regarding its financial position last year—even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During its regularly scheduled meeting last Tuesday, the NY Mills City Council received its 2020 year-end audit. The audit found the city’s general fund grew by $193,492 last year, thanks in large part to 46.5 percent more revenue being taken in than originally budgeted. Much of that amount came from contributions and donations for things like the childcare center and other projects in the community. 

While the city received more revenue than originally budgeted, it also overspent its budget by 29.8 percent, due largely to an increase in general government and culture/recreation associated with several projects for things like the softball field and childcare project. 

The increase in the general fund means the city’s unrestricted fund balance is 85 percent of expenses, which is about on par for the past 10 years in NY Mills. That means the City of NY Mills could function for about 10 months with no additional revenue. 

“Overall, that’s a pretty good cushion,” said John Hagen, of Eide Bailly.

Hagen said a positive fund balance helps to contribute to a favorable bond rating, produces investment income, provides a source of working capital to meet cash flow needs and offers a cushion for unexpected expenditures or revenue shortfalls.

Some of the audit findings showed that the cash/investments for the city for the past 10 years continued to grow in 2020. The liquor store fund reached its highest cash/investments point since 2016, while the water, sewer and gas fund increased last year and the government activities fund reached its highest point in at least 10 years.

State of emergency

In addition to approving the 2020 audit report, the NY Mills City Council also rescinded the state of emergency it enacted in March 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Utilities supervisor Kyle Mattson brought up the idea of rescinding the state of emergency last month. The council agreed that given the county’s continued emergency declaration, and improving state of the COVID-19 pandemic, that such a declaration was no longer necessary. 

Mattson said the concept behind the emergency declaration was to provide more localized control should a COVID-19 outbreak happen in NY Mills. However, a new state of emergency could be issued if it was needed down the road.

“Since we are in Otter Tail County we would fall under the Otter Tail County emergency status,” said Mattson. “Either way, we are protected either on our own or under the county’s emergency declaration.”

In other news

• Approved the hiring of Kyle Vorderbruggen and Wade Johnston as new members of the NY Mills Fire Department. The fire department responded to 14 calls in March.

• Acknowledged a donation to the City of NY Mills Public Library from the Viking Library System for the installation of an automatic door opener. 

• Approved not rezoning six lots in Countryview from Residential A to RBC to allow for either single-family homes or multi-family homes. The recommendation to not approve the rezoning of the lots came from the NY Mills Planning and Zoning Committee after the NY Mills EDA recommended rezoning Lots 1, 2 and 3 of Block 6 and Lots 6, 7 and 8 of Block 7.

• Heard that the city received a Letter of Intent to purchase the current city shop and property adjacent to Brunswick/Lunds. Brunswick is currently in a 30 day window to complete a purchase agreement and complete environmental studies should it wish to move forward with purchasing the property. 

• Discussed allowing the school to use the senior citizens center kitchen for its summer food program. NY Mills School will be undergoing an expansive construction project this summer and will not be able to use its kitchen for the summer food program.