By Per Peterson
Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen last week outlined an ambitious plan that he believes will streamline and simplify the city budget-balancing process and create a stronger financial backbone for the City of Tracy.
In a power point presentation to the City Council at last Tuesday’s meeting, Hansen said that he has spent a significant amount of time during his first two months on the job reviewing the City’s internal financial systems with staff, external auditors and consultants. A “stable financial backbone,” he said will help support future projects and programs.
“We’ve got a lot of really neat things that we can do in town, but we really need to shore up our backbone — the financial piece,” Hansen said. “We’re heading into a period here where we’re going to have a fair amount of debt with the street and sewer project, and we want to make sure we can handle that.”
As part of his presentation, Hansen said opportunities for internal improvement include using best practices for budget and finances; applying new systems to track expenses and hold the City accountable to prevent overspending; using planning tools for capital improvements; preventative maintenance; and training and monitoring new staff.
Changes like these, Hansen added, will simplify the City’s budgeting system, create more transparency, improve financial tracking and will improve integration with required external audits and financial reports.
Hansen said the current line item coding system needs updating — it is overly complicated, he said, and auditors he has spoken with recommend the City change its antiquated coding system, starting with the 2021 budget, and adopt Minnesota’s chart of accounts, as most cities in Minnesota have already done.
“Most of the cities in Minnesota use the auditor’s recommended chart of accounts, and our auditors recommend we use the Minnesota chart of accounts system,” said Hansen. “They said, ‘We work with hundreds of cities, and you’re the only one doing it (the current) way.’ Coming from an accountant, that’s not really a compliment — they make their living doing it the same way every time.”
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.