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Core principles discussed Thursday during FSC meeting

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Before implementing core principles recommended by the fiscal sustainability committee was discussed last Thursday afternoon, an audience member praised the committee. “In working with this outstanding committee and with (member) Mike Miller, it brings tears to my eyes and commendations to my mouth about the work that’s been done,” said Lincoln resident David Gordon. Gordon said there is “an importance of recognizing the relationship between time organization and management principles for establishing fiscal sustainability.” “I have been concerned the City Council may not recognize (the importance) between time organization and management,” Gordon said. “They will say your charge is to achieve sustainability. I would say with that, you need to have organization and management in order to achieve fiscal sustainability.” Jim Macauley, a Newcastle resident, said he wanted to “second David’s (Gordon) heartfelt compliment.” “I believe one of the reasons this body exists is because there was a problem with transparency in the city,” Macauley said. “I think transparency is important.” Macauley addressed an item he didn’t see in the list of recommended core principles, which was to “have council members disclose what businesses they are involved with and what real estate they own.” “Some decisions may be motivated by that,” Macauley said. Committee member Larry Whitaker expressed his concern of the “magnitude” of the number of core principles and “how effective it will be.” “What I’d like to do is not end up preaching to the city,” Whitaker said. “I’d like it to be a collection of a lot of good things the city ought to do.” Mike Miller, the core principles subcommittee chairman, said both the facts and findings in the final report should be read. “When the final document is made public, I highly recommend reading the study and findings,” Miller said. “Not everything translates into the recommendations but is important in a broader context.” Committee member Richard MacKirdy questioned implementing the principles. “Core principles are extremely vital to running a city properly,” MacKirdy said. “The question I have is how are the core principles to be implemented. They need to go beyond this report.” Committee chairman Pearl said that the committee “can’t mandate the City Council to adopt any of them (recommendations).” “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make the horse drink,” Pearl said. The committee voted to modify recommendation number 6, which called for an external audit of the city’s financial records within six to nine months after the close of the fiscal year. The time frame of six to nine months was amended to say “less than six months,” according to Pearl. “Six months is tough but nine months can change to 12 months,” Whitaker said. “I think when an audit is done into March, April, May or June, it’s almost inadequate.” The committee also amended recommendation number 33, which stated that city staff should provide quarterly updates on the budget to City Council. Although committee member Don Wall requested that quarterly be changed to monthly, the language was changed to say that the update should be given “at least quarterly” after some discussion. “In the real world, if you can do it on a quarterly basis, that’s good,” Whitaker said. Miller said the city manager should “be looking at the data on a less than quarterly basis.” “I would give the role of city manager to go to the City Council on an as-needed basis, should something occur,” Miller said. “Anything longer than quarterly doesn’t give the City Council time to absorb and make decisions.”