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How much is in Lincoln’s reserves?

City staff don’t know
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Lincoln’s city manager and assistant city manager/chief financial officer do not know how much the city has in reserves. The News Messenger asked City Manager Jim Estep how much money the city has in total reserves, not just for the General Fund, on Monday. To find out how much the city has in total reserves, Estep said, “you would have to look up the city’s reserves by accounts.” Estep said the city has 72 funds. In the city’s quarterly investment report for the quarter ending Sept. 20, the city’s cash investments are listed as being $57 million. Those cash investments are $21 million in the Local Agency Investment Fund, $2 million in a demand account at US Bank, $1.3 in money market funds, $18.7 million in U.S. Agency bonds and $13.2 million in corporate bonds. The News Messenger asked Estep if the city’s $57 million in cash investments are the city’s reserves. “The city’s cash investments are not reserves. Those are investments,” Estep said. “They are used for current and future capital and operating needs.” Jatczak also said it was for current and future capital and operating needs. But Terry Dorsey, the non-staff member of the city’s investment committee and owner of Dorsey Capital Management, said “this is the accepted definition of a reserve.” The city’s balance sheet, dated Nov. 19, shows a negative $59 million under the “cash in bank” column for the city’s assets. Jatczak told The News Messenger that cash in bank “is an accounting term that means the money is held somewhere else” or “off-site.” The number is negative, Jatczak said, because the money “is offsite.” Dorsey said cash assets cannot be listed as a negative. “Cash is an asset and, on a balance sheet, it always is a positive number,” Dorsey said. “To say that it’s a negative number because it’s offsite is wrong, confusing and smacks of being a smoke screen for some other purpose.” “The $57 million, whether off-site, in a bank or broker firm or in somebody’s mattress, is the city’s reserve,” Dorsey said. “That can be used for current or future operation expenses. In my opinion, the city has the money and can afford to fund essential services until the economy recovers.”