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Morris auditor impressed by city's finanical situation

MORRIS – The city of Morris received good news in its audit report during Monday’s Morris City Council meeting.

The annual report was given by auditor Bill Crawford on the city’s fiscal year that ended April 30. Crawford said he was impressed by the city’s financial situation.

“Unlike the federal government, your financial house is in order,” he said. “You have record cash balances and record revenue.”

The city ended its fiscal year with more than $28 million in cash on hand, which is more than $4 million over the previous year. Crawford said it is the highest he has ever seen Morris’ balance.

The Tax Increment Finance District Fund had the largest increase from the previous year, with more than $2.5 million. This was because the city had to make a $1.3 million contribution to it in order to get a match of $1.4 million through a state program.

The Water and Sewer Capital Improvement Fund saw about a $600,000 decrease from the year before due to a transfer to the city’s General Fund. Crawford said this was done to help with the city’s contribution to the TIF Fund.

A TIF Fund is made up of money from a TIF district. A TIF District freezes the assessed value of properties in the district. Any tax money generated from increases in value of those properties then goes into a special fund to be used to improve properties in the district.

Crawford also compared the General Fund’s major revenues over the last four years and showed the council how the sales and use taxes revenue is the highest it has been yet at $5.7 million.

“This is by far your most abundant source of revenue,” he said.

The property tax revenue has continued to decrease since 2011 with the drop in local equalized assessed values and the city continuing to keep its 65-cent multiplier on its property tax rate. Crawford said because the city has not changed this rate the residents’ property taxes have not increased and therefore the city’s income on property taxes has decreased.

Keeping the multiplier at 65 cents has been a priority for the city, Mayor Richard Kopczick said after the meeting, as the council believes if property values are going down and its residents are going through harder times, the city should be doing what it can to not increase taxes.

The city’s major funds’ expenditures have also gone down slightly. It’s total expenditures were about $16.1 million. The previous fiscal year it was almost $16.4 million.

Crawford also pointed out the city is seeing a savings in payroll since it no longer employees dispatchers.

It does pay a fee to the Grundy County Emergency Telephone System Board for dispatch service, but that fee in much less than what the city paid in payroll, insurance and retirement. The payroll decreased by about $355,000. The Grundy ETSB took the city’s dispatchers and combined it with the county’s to form its dispatch staff that serves all of Grundy County.

Kopczick said he was proud the city has continued to maintain its expenditures and increase its revenue despite the economic atmosphere in recent years.

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