Committee hears good and bad news

It was a tale of both good and bad news for city of Dunkirk taxpayers when the Common Council Finance Committee met Monday.

Fiscal Affairs Officer Rich Halas told committee chairman Michael Michalski and members Stephanie Kiyak and Stacy Szukala he has been working on several items. Included were a report on a $13,000-plus payment the city received for damages caused when a National Fuel truck hit a traffic control device, and the continuing search with City Treasurer Mark Woods for the source of a $125,000 addition to a revenue line in the budget.

Another issue the committee has been studying is money owed among the city’s three main funds – general, water and wastewater. Halas said it was very complex and goes back years and said it was something that would have to be discussed at budget time.

“We’re going to address it as soon as I know what the number is,” Halas stated. “I just don’t want to put it out there until (the outside auditor) says OK, no more adjustments are being made, this is what the number is. I just want to be very sure.”

Halas then spoke of an effort that will result in some savings to the city, a meeting with city insurance carrier Lawley Tradition and Wally Gotowka, a principal at the firm. Halas explained he and Michalski went with one question in mind, did the city need the services of Industrial Appraisal Company to perform an audit of city equipment, buildings and vehicles?

“He said we need a good number, especially for the water treatment and wastewater treatment plants,” Halas stated. “Industrial Appraisals would not have done that without hiring another appraiser, because they’re not experts. We did make a recommendation to have Gus Maas, free of charge, because he does so much business with Hill Engineering, put together a list of all the equipment … with the replacement value. Wally Gotowka was fine with that. … Who else but the engineers … is going to have a better handle on that?”

Halas said Gotowka told him there was a lot of work to do.

Michalski said he was under the impression Gotowka said that other than the water and wastewater treatment plants there isn’t really anything that needs the services of Industrial Appraisal.

“The vehicles are covered, real property is covered,” Michalski explained. “As far as the equipment and stuff, we have computers, furniture, there’s really nothing there with too much value, I would think.”

He added the copy machines the city uses are leased. Szukala asked if going forward with the appraisal was needed.

“He seemed to think we were covered under our blanket policy for everything but wastewater and water filtration,” Michalski replied.

Halas said the city has an umbrella package for $6 million. Kiyak noted it was almost like personal property in a house.

“Here’s the problem. If we haven’t done a recent inventory how do we, if God forbid the building burned down, how do we prove everything that’s in here?” Kiyak asked.

Halas said it would be done inhouse with the KVS computer system the city is using. He said he checked with the county and the county uses its software to keep track of items. Discussion turned to items on the list, which will be checked with department heads.

After the meeting Michalski provided further explanation on the meeting with Gotowka.

“We learned most of our efforts, time, money, should be spent evaluating the assets of the water treatment plant and the water filtration plants,” Michalski explained. “Our other facilities that we have are covered under our blanket policy. We will be reviewing the properties that we do have insurance for to make sure that we still own them, number one, and we’ll be reviewing the vehicles that we have insured.”

Halas said during the meeting that the services of Falleta Engineering PC will no longer be used on consent order work.

“It sounds like there’s still some services that need to be provided to the city and it sounds to me like we are severing our relationship with one of those providers. We have to make sure those things are getting done so we can continue to move forward to meet the timeline that’s been established for the consent order,” Michalski said. “Those are important things and we learned that we went out to bid for the $4.4 million. Hopefully, we will know real soon here what kind of rate we’re getting, that’s always important and I’m hoping it’s very favorable.”

The bond anticipation notes borrowing is for phase two work in the consent order and will be short term at the start before eventually going to long-term borrowing.

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