St. Joe Council earns a clean bill of financial health

Dave DeMarsFeatured News, Print St. Joseph, St. Joseph0 Comments

by Dave DeMars

The St. Joseph City Council learned they have been doing a pretty good job of keeping revenues and expenses in check at their regular May 5 meeting. With one chair on the dais sitting empty because of the recent resignation of Matt Killam, the council heard Janel Bitzan of BerganKDV auditing firm.

Bitzan summarized the 134-page audit in a 15-minute presentation giving the council the highlights which included a surplus balance of unrestricted net position amounting to $2,967,863. After deducting for the governmental enterprise indebtedness, the balance still showed a positive balance of $1,150,122.

The complete audit can be found at the following web address:

The city uses a segregated fund system for financial management. In addition to the general account which is used for many day-to-day activities, the city has many proprietary accounts for things such as water, sanitary sewer, refuse, storm-water sewer and street-light utilities.

The report showed the proprietary accounts were well managed and they showed a combined balance increase of $755,514.

The city tries to maintain a four- to six-month working capital cushion in its general account to help in smoothing out liabilities incurred during various projects that are undertaken. Because of higher-than-expected collected revenues and fewer tax delinquencies, the city had a 2 percent increase in income.

Also careful management and lower costs on some projects resulted in around $180,000 of lowered expenditures.

A motion to accept the audit was approved unanimously.

Other business

Stearn County Engineer Jodi Teich appeared before the council to request approval and allowance for resurfacing work of CR 75. The project is scheduled to start in midsummer.

“This is a formality,” Teich said. “I am asking for municipal approval of the project because a portion of the project will go right through the city.”

The project will last through most of the summer and into the fall and will stretch from Interstate Hwy. 94 through St. Joseph and into Waite Park ending around 15th Avenue in Waite Park. As the highway passes through the city, the county is required to seek a permit to perform the work which the council approved.

City Engineer Randy Sabart requested the council approve a request to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for a limited-use permit in order to facilitate the construction of the proposed pedestrian trail along CR 2 which is within the MNDOT right-of-way as it passes under the I-94 interchange bridge. Council approved the request.

The council also approved purchase of playground equipment at Millstream Park in the amount of $31,000. Council had previously made a provision for the purchase of equipment up to $40,000 as part of the Millstream renovation plan. This purchase was a significant cost savings and was approved by the council.

City Administrator Judy Weyrens requested the council approve a refunding resolution in the amount of $1.1 million in order to qualify for a Business Development Public Infrastructure matching grant under the auspices of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The city is required to illustrate it has the available money to match the BDPI grant. Once the BDPI grant is awarded, the city will recoup its outlay through bond proceeds. Council approved the refunding.

photo by Dave DeMars
Janel Bitzan of BerganKDV explains some of the positive highlights uncovered during the annual audit conducted by her company. The council is doing a good job of keeping the city finances on track Bitzan told the council.

photo by Dave DeMars
Stearns County Engineer Jodi Teich explains how the county will resurface CR 75. The work will obviously cause congestion over the summer months, but the city will benefit from it in the long run, Teich explained.

Author: Dave DeMars

Born and raised in Wisconsin – a “Happy Days” high school experience. Attended UW-River Falls and followed their motto – “Where the free spirit prevails.” Four years in the Army Security Agency (Spies), 31 years teaching English and directing plays. Other jobs – gandy dancer, counselor at mental institution, snowmaker, apple picker, concrete finishing, janitor, furniture mover, appliance sales, insurance sales, media sales, real estate, and writer. I am skeptical to a fault and like all human being I am more oxymoron than I am anything else. I blog at

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