ISHPEMING - The city of Ishpeming received a generally positive audit report for the 2011 fiscal year, but the city will need to work to keep that trend in the future.
Anderson, Tackman & Company representative John Blemberg told the Ishpeming City Council at a special meeting this week that the city's various funds had all remained relatively stable over the past several years, with the city's general fund balance increasing slightly to $459,000 by the end of 2011.
A portion of that fund balance will likely be used in developing the 2013 budget, City Manager Jered Ottenwess said.
One area of the budget Blemberg suggested the city keep an eye on is the city's sewer fund, which, while operating at a positive cash flow, operates at a loss when depreciation of the system is factored in.
As the fund is generating cash reserves due to sewer rate increases enacted by the city council, Blemberg suggested the council begin to put some of that money away to be able to finance repairs or expansions later.
"If the fund continues to generate cash, I would say it would be a good idea to put some of that away," he said.
Council members said they were pleased with the audit report.
"This audit report looks a lot better than it did eight years ago," Councilman John Stone said, referring to the city's finances when he and Mayor Pat Scanlon were elected to the council. "I don't think our fund balance is in the right spot yet, but we're moving in the right direction.
"We need to put more into it."
"I charge the new council (to be elected in November) to keep an eye on these accounts," he said.
Besides hearing the audit report, the council also took action on two items relating to the recent reports of attacks by aggressive dogs on area pets.
At the request of Ottenwess, the council voted to form a committee consisting of the city manager, city attorney, a city council representative, a local veterinarian and a local resident to either revise the city's dog ordinance or come up with a new ordinance. The committee will report back to the council within 45 days.
The city has a leash law that carries a civil penalty (a fine of $75) for owners who do not comply, leaving a gap between a dog being off a leash and penalties in place for dog owners whose pets attack humans, which carries stricter penalties under state law.
"The police department has done everything it can in these attacks," Ottenwess said.
Councilwoman Elaine Racine was appointed to fill the council seat on the committee.
The council also directed the Ishpeming City Police Department to put priority on enforcing the city's leash ordinance and authorized the purchase of necessary animal control equipment for use by the officers.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.