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Auditors give Chelsea city books ‘unqualified’ opinion

The city got great news Tuesday night from its auditors — “an unqualified opinion,” which means all taxpayer money is accurately accounted for, among other things, and that all the city’s checks and balances follow standard accounting procedures.

In addition, the city’s reserve fund was at 17 percent of its operating budget, which is well within the goal the city had set of 15-20 percent.

During the Chelsea City Council meeting on Oct. 9, representatives from Plante & Moran, PLLC, the city’s auditing firm, told the elected officials that once again, the city’s financial team had done “an outstanding job in reporting financial activities.”

David H. Helisek of Plante & Moran, PLLC, the city was making its required contributions to its pension fund and that overall, the city’s finances are “right where you thought (they’d) be.”

“The staff is doing a good job — Ms. (Kim) Garland and Mr. (John) Hanifan, your financial folks have done a great job,” he said.

He called the city’s finances “consistent,” something that’s “a really good word,” during a time when many communities are experiencing a decline in revenues and increasing costs.

A quick look at the city’s finances for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012 includes a reduction in taxable value of 5 percent, from $3.11 million in 2011 to $2.96 million in 2012.

In 2011, the general fund revenue was $4.05 million, while in 2012, it was $3.774 million. The general fund expenses were $4.852 million in 2011 and $3.891 million in 2012.

“Overall, there has been a 5-percent decrease in property taxes and overall revenues,” said Michelle Lewis, another representative of Plante & Moran.

As far as general fund expenses go, these were reduced by $1 million from FY 2011 to 2012, due in part to a one-time 2011 transfer of $500,000 from the general fund to the water fund and a one-time $250,000 payment that was part of a lawsuit.

“There was a decrease of five percent and that’s in line with the decline in revenues,” Lewis said.

The water fund took in $1.536 million in revenues and had $1.063 million in expenses,  while the sewer fund took in $1.734 million in revenues and spent $1.159 million in expenses. The electric fund had $7.592 million in revenue and $8.078 million in expenses.

The auditors thanked all members of the Chelsea staff who assisted them during the audit and let the City Council know that in addition to doing a good job of keeping on top of the city’s finances, the entire city staff was “very helpful and knowledgeable” when it came to answering the auditor’s questions.


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