With eye toward future, City of Tracy to sign on for financial management plan

By Per Peterson

The Tracy City Council on Monday approved a motion to pay $23,000 to implement a financial management plan for the City, which would include a debt study and utility rate study.

“It’s definitely something that I am a proponent of,” Ambuehl said. “We should have a financial management plan moving forward for all the debt service that we’re going to have upcoming with all the potential projects. Going into that blindly and having to set the debt levy year after year is not necessarily us focusing on the problem.”

Ambuehl said one way to stabilize debt and ultimately get taxes down would be to do a utility rate study, which would be paid for under the investment plan.

Ambuehl said it’s possible the city could use leftover USDA grant money to help pay for the utility rate study.

Ambuehl received two bids for the long-term plan ($9,500), debt study ($5,500) and utility rate study ($11,500). The winning bid presented by Abdo Eick & Meyers, he said, is equal to what only a utility rate study would’ve cost in the past.

“If somebody would have done this in 1985, we wouldn’t be bonding for a project right now,” Ambuehl said.

Ambuehl said the average time it takes a company to put together a financial investment plan is anywhere between three to nine months. He said because of what Tracy has going on with its large infrastructure projects, it could take longer.

“A lot of your major cities do this annually,” he said. “They’ll have a finance director that will do this full-time. Obviously we don’t have that need. The ideal scenario for a city would be to do this once every 10 years — set up a plan, have it overlap in 10 years and then re-do the plan in 10 years, because nobody can tell us how big the city of Tracy is going to be 10 years from now.

“Having a financial plan come in lower than what the utility rate study is now makes better sense than what we were looking at a couple years back,” said councilperson Tony Peterson.

Abdo Eick & Meyers currently serves as the city’s auditing company.

“I like the price,” Peterson said. “I don’t like spending money, but I like the price.”

Councilperson Teri Schons agreed.

“I don’t think any of us like to spend the money, but sometimes we have to do it,” she said.

Schons made the motion to accept the offer and go ahead with the financial plan; Peterson seconded it, noting that it wouldn’t be a city budget expense for this year.

Before moving forward, Ambuehl told the council he would first like to see if the city can use any USDA funds to help pay for the initial portion of the plan. The council can then budget for any remaining costs in the future.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.