Further discussion on Interfund transfers, a topic of heated discussion lately that was brought up by Ward 6 City Councilwoman Hawley, will have to wait until spring.

At their last meeting, City Council members voted to table the issue until the state audit of the city is released in March or April.


Further discussion on Interfund transfers, a topic of heated discussion lately that was brought up by Ward 6 City Councilwoman Hawley, will have to wait until spring.
At their last meeting, City Council members voted to table the issue until the state audit of the city is released in March or April.
Hawley was the sole member who voted against holding the issue until the audit is released.
“I think they are hesitating to change policy until the audits come in,” John Butz, the city administrator, said on Wednesday after the meeting.
The issue is the city’s policy of charging four departments — Sewer, Solid Waste, Street and The Centre — 7 percent for administrative cost, which are then sent into the General Fund.
Hawley has attacked this method, because as she has asserted, that money is then sent to other departments, such as the Rolla Airport or Parks.
Steve Hargis, the Public Works director, and Butz have stated previously the 7 percent charge is for administrative work the city does for the departments, such as financial record-keeping.
Hawley has objected to this arrangement since it is not a city ordinance. Hawley stated several times the 7 percent fee should be reflected in an ordinance or done away with.
“Why do it now if we have to go back and do it again,” Ward 1 Councilman Monty Jordan said Thursday.
Jordan made the motion to table the review, which was quickly seconded by Ward 3 Councilwoman Sue Eudaly.
Jordan said he did not want to make changes in case state auditors came back to the council and said the ordinance was incorrect and needed to be changed.
Jordan added that if the state auditors come back and do not raise an issue about the interfund transfers, then the city can restart the issue.
Butz prepared a presentation that outlined a few options the council could take.
“I was prepared to speak,” Butz said Wednesday after the meeting.
In the presentation Butz was going to bring to the council, he mentions the current way the city collects for what he referred to as overhead costs and gives two other approaches the city might take:
• The first alternative approach Butz suggests in the document is to track all overhead costs as they are incurred by the various departments.
Butz said on Monday that this process would require to tracking all time and actions, like lawyers do with their clients that were committed to department administrative duties. This approach, he said, was unlikely since it would be overly difficult to track.
• The second alternative involved taking the overall budgets of the four departments and using its percentage of the overall budget to calculate its overhead.
For example, the Sewer Department, which has a budget fund expense of $1.934 million accounts for 8.2 percent of the budget. Now the method Butz would have proposed involved taking the 8.2 percent and multiplying it by the estimated overhead cost of the city, which he put at $1,817 million. Sewer would end up paying $153,446 for administrative cost along with $71,000 for utilities, totaling $224,446.
This is in contrast to the 7 percent flat rate, which was taken out of the departments operating revenues. The Sewer Department has a projected operating revenue for 2009 of $2.26 million and under the current arrangement, according to Butz the department would pay $203,000.
For those doing the math, $203,000 is actually less then 7 percent of its Operating Revenue. According to Butz, since there are services the departments provide not in their job description, such as the Sewer Department  putting up the city Christmas Tree, the city takes off some expense to compensate.
These approaches, Butz said in the document can be  more accurate and technical, but also can be more complex.
At the Dec. 15 meeting, Hawley was the only council member who objected to the tabling of the discussion by voting against it.
Asked Thursday why she had not been more vocal about it, Hawley said she felt she hadn’t been given much of an opportunity to speak up at the meeting.
“I think it’s wrong that we are still charging the fee,” Hawley said, adding that she does not understand why the council wanted to wait until the state audit.
Hawley was not without regret though, adding later on in the interview that she might have failed by not speaking up.