Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, May 8, 2000

HL council praised by auditors

By Andrea Vargo

"Keep doing what you are doing," auditor Matt Viere told the Howard Lake City Council Tuesday.

Viere of Kern, DeWenter, Viere, Ltd. referred to the city's annual audit.

There was a significant increase in the general fund balance in 1999, and 1999 is the first year in five years that revenues exceeded expenditures, he said.

The $188,865 increase is the result of tax dollars received and operating transfers from other funds into the general fund.

Also, two debt service funds were paid off in 1999, and the remaining equity of $130,321 was transferred to the general fund, Viere explained.

The general fund total for 1999 was $599,081, compared to $279,895 in 1998.

A significant comparison is the general fund revenues and expenditures, Viere said.

In 1999, revenues were $901,146. Expenditures were $779,306.

This means the city held the line on its budget, and the increase in sewer and water rates helped that fund a great deal, he said.

This is important because the sewer and water funds will be expected to cover the costs of the Highway 12 sewer and water improvements and be self-sufficient, Viere stated.

The city's long range plans are important and pay off, he said.

Also, off-sale and on-sale should be tracked as two separate businesses to determine profitability for the municipal liquor store, Viere told the council.

Although internal control (manager Ruth Voight) has greatly increased the profits at the liquor store, it remains to be seen if the drinks are profitable. If they are not, Viere seemed to feel the liquor store might have to consider raising prices.

Insurance options

Dave Sherman of Midland Corporate Benefit Services, Inc of Winsted explained to the council the advantages of using a pre-tax 125 flex plan to help employees with health and dental premiums, day care expenses, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Jim Latour of Association Marketing Systems, Inc. of Buffalo presented the city with several medical insurance plans for city employees.

Employees will meet with Latour and Sherman for more information in order to make their decisions on an insurance plan.

Area cities contribute different amounts to employee health insurance, said City Administrator Doug Borglund.

He called around to get some perspective, and this is what he found.

Howard Lake pays $290 per month towards health and dental insurance. Any remaining funds may be used for life or disability insurance.

Annandale pays 100 percent of health, dental, and disability under a pre-tax/flex benefit program.

Montrose pays 85 percent and the employee pays 15 percent of the total cost of health, dental, and life insurance.

Cokato pays up to $350 per month towards health and dental insurance. The city also pays for disability insurance.

Waverly pays $400 per month towards health, dental, and long term disability insurance. The employee may take a cash option of 70 percent of the $400, if he/she is not taking insurance. The 70 percent is taxed as income.

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