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City of Chelsea receives glowing ‘unmodified opinion’ on its annual audit

Plante Moran, Chelsea’s auditing firm, gave a very positive, detailed presentation of the city’s finances on Monday, Oct. 19 during the Chelsea City Council meeting held via Zoom.

The firm gave the city an “unmodified opinion,” the highest level of assurance for the city’s controls and accounting practices.

Auditor Dave Helisek praised the “terrific job that Amanda (Garber) and her team do.”

He said there were no inconsistencies in the controls and accounting in the city and that city staff had also adhered to numerous new state accounting practices and guidelines.

“This should give the City Council a pretty good level of confidence,” he said of the job that city staff had done.

With no significant audit findings, he said, Garber and city staff did “outstanding work.”

He also credited city staff for creating a $4.3 million operating budget 16-18 months ahead of time that ended the fiscal year within $30,000 of being exact.

“This has really been the track record in the city,” Helisek said of the consistency of the city staff to budget and adhere to these plans for its operations. He said the city continues to maintain correct amounts of working capital in its electrical, wastewater and water funds, while adding to its overall fund balance and more than adequately covering its legacy costs, which are a problem for many municipalities in the state.

He called all of the careful planning and prudent practices “a big deal,” and something that he has seen from city staff in Chelsea for many years.

For a detailed presentation on the city’s funds, please go to the recording of the meeting on the city’s website and there is a PDF at the end of this story.  

On the business agenda, there were three items, beginning with the approval of the installment purchase resolution for a piece of property at 400 N. Freer Road. It includes plans to use $250,000 from the city’s fund balance and $200,000 in installment funding for up to 15 years. The resolution was adopted 6-1 with Council Member Charles Wiseley voting against the resolution as he has voted in all previous items involving this property purchase.

The City Council unanimously approved the temporary extension of outdoor seating hours in the city through the end of November, and the elected officials rescheduled its goals and objectives work session for Monday, Oct. 26 beginning at 7 p.m.

The original meeting was postponed until the ambiguity of the legality of holding Zoom meetings under the Open Public Meetings Act was defined following the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision to end all of the governor’s executive orders.  

During staff reports, City Manager John Hanifan told the City Council that city staff was divided into two groups and that all employees took part in antibias training that the Chelsea Police Department and the Chelsea Area Fire Authority personnel have completed previously.

Chelsea Police Chief Ed Toth said the department responded to 215 calls for service, were on the scene of six traffic crashes and made seven traffic stops. No citations were issued.

He said the department has a part-time opening for both a 911 dispatcher and a crossing guard. Anyone interested can find more information and a fill out a form on the city’s website.

Audit Presentation
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