Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Feb. 19, 2001

Auditor praises City of LP's financial condition

By Patrice Salmon

The city is good financial shape, an auditor told the Lester Prairie City Council last Monday.

Al Heinen of the accounting firm Brackermann, Heinen, and Mayer, reported that for 1999, the city was in compliance of all state requirements and is in good financial shape.

At the end of 1999, the city's combined balance of all funds was $854,590, an increase of $47,856 from the beginning of the year.

When Mayor Eric Angvall inquired about the overall financial picture, Heinen explained that for a city this size, Lester Prairie is extremely healthy.

Heinen also had compliments for City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk. "She does a fine job. No adjustments were made to her figures. Everything was cleaned up, and easy to understand," he said.

Upon completing his report, Heinen announced that because of new accounting standards, his firm will no longer be handling municipal audit work.

The new standards will be going into effect in the next few years, with city compliance required in four years. The governmental standards are being developed to, among other reasons, reach some standardization between communities.

The new accounting standards will eventually help with long-range planning. It will involved depreciating infrastructure rather than working on cash basis.

A city-wide inventory will also be required with the new system.

The name of a replacement firm will be recommended, along with some others, so that the council can make an informed choice for a new firm.

Engineering presentation

Representatives from Bonestroo, Rosene, Anderlik, and Associates made a presentation on the architectural and engineering services that they could offer the city.

They spoke of the firm's creativity, dedication, and practice of offering more than one design option for each project.

Also emphasized was the firm's ability to offer a local connection. Dan Boyum, from Chanhassen, also serves the cities of Winsted and Carver.

Boyum explained that he insists on looking at planning issues before construction in order to coordinate efforts with other utilities, avoid costly mistakes, and promote the efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

"When I told Rick Kjonaas (McLeod County highway engineer) that we were coming here, Rick asked if he could be a reference for us," said Dale Tranter, client liaison.

The firm is familiar with grant and funding resources, which multiply the city's assets.

There would be no cost involved if the city switches engineering firms. Bonestroo is also willing to do research necessary to facilitate the change, to hold a kick-off meeting, and attend city council meetings, he said.

Boyum said he does not have prior commitments on Monday nights, thus allowing for council meeting attendance.

Angvall expressed appreciation for the amount of work, and research that Boyum and his team put into their presentation.

"Rick Kjonaas is familiar with their firm and has good things to say," commented Angvall.

Douglas Parrott of Short Elliott Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH), the city's current engineering firm, also had the chance to speak on behalf of his company.

He told of the merger of RCM and SEH, and the increased capability SEH has to serve the city because of the additional manpower.

Parrott requested that he be able to also make a formal presentation before the council, which was granted.

Fire department

Former Fire Chief Jerry Pawelk brought before the council a new situation in the application process for two new volunteer firefighters.

Two new applicants to the Lester Prairie Fire Department have a history of back injuries. The two, have passed the mandatory physical, but now face an agility test.

Pawelk questioned the city's position in this matter. Angvall pointed out that a precedent would be set by what the council decided.

"If everyone's put through the same physical requirements, and they don't pass those, then you can exclude them from what they're doing," said Angvall.

After discussion, it was decided that the council would recommend that the Fire Chief Jim Hoof would inquire as to what other cities do; contact the applicants, concerning the physical demands of the position; and request a letter from each individual's physician, clearing them for fire department duty.

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