Niles general fund has more than $2 million

NILES — City finances are in the black with a projected general fund balance of more than $2 million heading into 2018.

That was the highlight of a Financial Planning and Supervision Commission meeting Tuesday.

Timothy Lintner, a project manager with the state auditor’s office, said Niles began the year with a general fund balance of just under $400,000 and through November the fund is just under $2.5 million. The water fund still needs to repay more than $900,000 to the general fund, Lintner said, which when made would put the balance over $3.4 million.

Enterprise funds, including the water, light and sewer funds, are also all up from the beginning of the year, Lintner said. However, the water fund, with a balance of more than $235,000, will dip into a deficit when new water meter installation is paid for to the tune of approximately $600,000. City council is expected to vote today on legislation regarding water meter installation, and council President Bob Marino said he expects the city to consider rate increases in the near future.

Marino, who did not seek re-election and will step down at the end of the year, said he’s pleased with the progress Niles is making and taxpayers should know finances are being closely monitored.

However, Marino, as well as commission member John Davis, said just because things are starting to get better doesn’t mean it’s time to celebrate or stop oversight. Structural deficiencies in city government led to the current financial emergency, Marino said, and as a result an audit committee was formed for additional oversight.

Beyond that, Marino said city council needs active committees, from finance to utilities, who work with the city auditor and provide an extra set of eyes on top of the audit committee. Continued monitoring of spending, even after the city is released from fiscal emergency, and an eye toward efficient and creative ways to provide services, are also a must moving forward, Marino said.

“Structurally we have changed things over the past few years to try to prevent this from ever happening again,” Marino said.