News Column

City finance panel under construction

May 28, 2014

By Brenden West, Clinton Herald, Iowa



May 28--CLINTON -- Councilmembers were all in agreement: some type of body needs to be set up to help monitor Clinton's complex city finances. During Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting, finance director Anita Dalton received some direction on how this new finance committee should take shape.

The council directed her to draft an ordinance spelling out specific qualifications for members and defining the committee's various roles. Councilwoman Lynn McGraw and City Administrator Jessica Kinser led the discussion, both possessing extensive financial backgrounds. McGraw owns a local accounting firm while Kinser was Dalton's predecessor.

The councilwoman said she appreciated her counterparts' feedback in the process.

"This committee is really something I feel is needed, and I'm really happy with the input Anita put forth," McGraw said.

For her, the first hurdle is establishing who specifically will run the committee. Others on the council envisioned a seven-person board containing councilmembers, Dalton, Kinser, community members and possibly other local elected officials.

The question then arose on how these members will be appointed. Right now, the authority rests with Mayor Mark Vulich, and other points were made about how best to sort through qualified number crunchers.

"If you open it up to the public, you're going to get people who have absolutely no financial background at all applying for these positions," Vulich said.

"If this were to be a border commission that is established, ultimately there is a process for placing people," Kinser said, explaining the application process and how appointments are ultimately ratified.

This early in the structuring stage, Dalton said it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what the committee will actually do. Councilman John Rowland brought bylaws from another city -- Forest Lake, Minn. -- and suggested Clinton could learn a thing or two from up north.

Forest Lake's committee monitors the city budget and provides detailed financial reports monthly and annually. This coincides with other components Clinton's leaders would like to see -- treasury management and bank reconciliation among the goals.

"I think on the list there's various ones we can use or apply to the situation here in Clinton to help set up the committee," Rowland said.

But first thing's first: Vulich (who has structured other committees) said at least an ordinance draft should be in place so the city and private citizens know what Clinton is looking for.

"We have to have the structure to appoint somebody to do it," he said.

By building a finance committee, councilmembers feel their tackling one of their top priorities, one heavily discussed during strategic planning sessions. Dalton's task, now, is to return to Clinton'sJune 10Committee of the Whole with a skeleton of what her superiors hope will come.

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(c)2014 the Clinton Herald (Clinton, Iowa)

Visit the Clinton Herald (Clinton, Iowa) at clintonherald.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Clinton Herald (IA)


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