City finances found in good shape

Publication: Monte Vista Journal
July 7, 2010

MONTE VISTA — A recent study city finances finds Monte Vista in a good position, though the current economic conditions will require additional measures to keep the city viable in the future.

“There are several areas where the city is doing very well,” said Christine Harwell, a partner with certified public accounting firm Clifton Gunderson LLP, during a presentation of the study to City Council earlier this month.

“Clearly, you have a city staff that takes a lot of care of the city’s finances,” Harwell said.

Clifton Gunderson LLP conducted the checkup as part of a pilot program paid for by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Monte Vista was one of six communities identified in December to participate.

“This checkup was a good follow-up to the troubles of 2003,” said City Manager Don Van Wormer.

He said city officials wanted to better understand Monte Vista’s financial health and recovery in the years after severe revenue losses occurred with a large business closure in 2003.

The accountants analyzed financial statements for the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The analysis employed 18 key financial indicators to determine financial trends and warning signs and to recommend solutions to solve any problems and to help further strengthen the city’s financial condition.

The five-year study period helps identify trends and to develop long-term strategic plans for financial sustainability in the future, Harwell said. She cautioned that the current economic circumstances are setting a “new normal” for revenue expectations in the future and that the days of large revenue increases year-to-year are a thing of the past.

Harwell said it was important that the city council had taken the step earlier this year to determine their priorities prior to the budget season for 2011. She recommended that these priorities drive the budget process, with input from the public.

Mayor Jose “Art” Medina said he found the financial checkup useful for the city and would recommend it to other communities.

“It’s nice to know where our finances are and to find out that financially we’re OK,” Medina said. “We take these recommendations seriously and will work for a strong future for our community.”

For more information about the city’s financial condition, contact Finance Director Debbie Phillips at 852-2692.

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