By jeanne starmack
The city has officially asked for release from fiscal emergency and financial oversight from the state, a status it’s had since 2004.
The city’s oversight commission, a state-mandated panel that guided the city on fiscal issues, voted at its meeting Monday to ask for the release.
The resolution, which passed unanimously, sets a process in motion that will end with the city’s release from state oversight in the next several months.
Committee chairwoman Sharon Hanrahan said she is not sure exactly how long the process will take, but the city may be calling all its own financial shots again by June.
The city had to meet certain criteria before it could officially ask for release.
City council President George Levendis, who sits on the oversight commission, said all of the city’s accounting deficiencies as noted by the state auditor’s office have been corrected.
He said all the books have been reconciled to monthly bank statements. A backlog of unreconciled statements that stretched back two years under a previous finance director is caught up.
“All of our funds are in the black, and the five-year forecast looks good,” he said.
Hanrahan said she will write a letter to the state auditor asking them to investigate whether the city is really ready for release from fiscal emergency.
She said the state auditor will send a team to make sure the city does not meet criteria for fiscal emergency.
She said the team will make sure the city has a fiscal-recovery plan, “which they have,” she said.
She said the team will make sure they’ve addressed the accounting deficiencies, “which they have,” she said.
She said the team also will make sure the city’s five-year financial forecast is reasonable.
She said the team will make a report, and the auditor’s office will review it.
Then, she said, the auditor will issue a termination of fiscal emergency.
Levendis and Mayor Bill VanSuch said it was employees, administrators and council working together that finally enabled the city to ask for fiscal release.
“I’m ecstatic,” Levendis said. “We’ve come a long way in a year.”
“We kept a handle on our expenditures,” VanSuch said. “And I thank the citizens who were on the [oversight commission] for coming to all the meetings and for their input.”
Levendis said there will be one more fiscal oversight commission meeting scheduled, and the city will be presented with a certificate of fiscal-emergency termination. The commission had met once a month.