Why was the city’s 2019 audit not released until August 11th, when it should have been issued in March or April?
This is not a question being asked to give you an answer, but it is one that the City Hall needs to explain. There are several issues with the 2019 audit. Over time, the city’s net position serves as a useful indicator of the city’s financial direction. The 2019 audit was not available for last week’s article on net position, but it does continue on the same downward trend as it dropped another 1.1%. Although the decrease is small, the direction continues down.
One of the causes of the downward trend is the city’s pension and post-employment benefits liabilities that are increasing every year. Although the ‘pay as you go’ approach for pensions and post-employment benefits is lowering current cost, it is increasing the city’s liabilities and future costs. Page 10 of the 2019 audit lists future liabilities for pension and post-employment benefits liabilities at over $4.6 million, which now accounts for 47% of the city’s total liabilities. For the city to promise pensions and post-employment benefits without funding them puts the burden on those in the future and that is the cause of the Illinois current financial problems, and, if we do not do something about it, then the City of Lake Geneva will face the same problem in the future. A second issue is that the auditors did identify a deficiency that they consider a significant deficiency in the city’s internal control about financial reporting.
That problem is the lack of segregation of duties to prevent or decrease errors or internal fraud. Segregation of duties ensures that no single employee has control over all phases of a financial transaction. This is the same deficiency that enabled payment of fraudulent receipts in the $100,000 library scandal. The auditors are right, in that the city should review its processes to identify tasks that could be reassigned to other city personnel so that no employee has sole control over all phases of a financial transaction. Another option could be to have an oversight board that could help assure the integrity of transactions.
Last Wednesday, August 12th, the tourism commission met and the business improvement district (BID) gave a wonderful update on its plans for downtown for the rest of the year. The BID is using its grant from the tourism commission to update and purchase new banners for the eleven poles downtown, including a generic Lake Geneva banner as a fill-in when there are no upcoming events. They have decided that there will be no Santa this year because they don’t feel it is safe for the children because of social distancing. The Christmas window display is planned as usual and so is the tree at the Brunk Pavilion. The BID is unsure about a tree ceremony at this time because they are waiting to see how the pandemic plays out later this year. The light poles will be wrapped in greenery and lights along with trees in the large planters on the corners of the sidewalk. Hopefully, more events will be added as time goes on because the BID brings a lot of life to downtown Lake Geneva.
Another Kwik Trip?
Wells Street in Lake Geneva could use some cleaning up and Kwik Trip is taking on the challenge. The current Stop-n Go, laundry mat, and the closed down Dairy Queen properties have recently been purchased by Kwik Trip. The plans are underway for the razing of the current buildings and the building of the fresh, clean, convenient new store.