Polk County received an overall positive report from the Minnesota State Auditor’s Office for their year-end report ending December 31, 2018. Polk County Administrator Chuck Whiting the county is in a good position. “A lot of it is checking out processes and making sure everything is for what is the financial summary of the county,” said Whiting. “It matters for us when we do bond issues or look at credit ratings. It also gives us a list of things we need to pay attention too. There are always findings of what we need to address, and we’re aware of those. In terms of fiscal health, we seem to be in a good position. We always have been a pretty conservative county with decent fund balances. We try to use those without overusing them, and what Bob from the state auditor’s office shared with us today is we’re doing pretty well.”
Most of Polk County’s fund balances have been decreasing over the past five years, but as Whiting notes, the county is still easily meeting the recommendations of the state auditor. “The state auditor’s office generally recommends that you have a fund balance of 35 to 50 percent of your operating expenses,” said Whiting. “If you think of it in terms of, you’re not going to get paid for six months, do you have enough savings to get through. We’re at like seven or eight months. We’ve always been on the higher side. Some of that is timing. We’ll get late annual revenues that we’re setting aside for a project the next year. The general gist of it is that our fund balances are good for an organization our size.”
Whiting is also preparing an “administrators” budget of all the county’s departments to present to commissioners, which they will use to help shape the final levy in December. “My job is to get a budget to them before October ends,” said Whiting. “Our last meeting is on October 22. From my standpoint, the county administrator’s proposed budget, I have about three weeks to go on that. I will bear down on that in the next week or so. I kind of know where they want to be, but there will always be some decisions that get made after that into November as we get ready for the December public hearing. Our target is still in that three to four percent levy increase range. We talked today about capital projects and how to pay for them, likely a capital improvement bond for about $3 million. That puts the payback off the 2020 levy into 2021 and will have probably ten years of debt service on that. The department heads have been real cooperative in dealing with some of the things I’m asking. It’s a process, and I’m confident by the 22nd we’ll have a county administrator budget posed.”
The County Commissioners approved a $50,000 donation from the Public Health funds to North Country Food Bank to assist with remodeling their new building in East Grand Forks. They voted to waive the tip fees for the City of Crookston for the demolition of a property at 110 Lincoln and released the final retainage of $11,595.00 on the scale project at the Transfer Station to Kennedy Scales. The board also reviewed the annual report from the Red Lake Watershed District, approved the filling of a vacant service desk technician position for the IT Department, and passed their consent agenda. The consent agenda included the auditor warrants, the September 24 meeting minutes, a payment for a lost warrant of $21.16 to Nora Bergh, and a payment of $1,080.97 to Hewlett Packard.