John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Monday, June 22, 2009

Audit Timing

Item E1 on the tonight's (June 22) workshop agenda:

1. Receipt and Presentation of Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for 2008 and Report by Auditor HLB Tautges, Redpath, LTD

I think it's worth comparing the timing for the 2008 report versus 2007. Last year we acknowledged receipt of the CAFR and report on August 11th, and formally accepted it at the August 28th continuation of the August 25th council meeting. As our auditors dryly explained in their "communication with those charged with governance," the 2007 audit "was completed later than anticipated due to a variety of factors, including an increased level of testing in response to identified risks, assistance provided with reconciling various accounts and delays in receiving the trial balance and other audit documentation."

The audit being completed a good seven weeks earlier is one measure of how the city's operations have been recovering from the damage suffered under the previous regime.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Unallotment Hits Maplewood

The governor has announced his "unallotment" cuts, taking back money from cities and other state budget areas in order to balance the spending bills he signed (while not signing the revenue bills the legislature also passed). The League of Minnesota Cities reports on the basics: "The 2009 cut will be computed as 3.31 percent of each city’s levy plus aid. For 2010, the percentage reduction will be increased to 7.64 percent."

According to the city-by-city information put together by the League, Maplewood will lose all of its $514,877 in expected 2009 Market Value Homestead Credit. We have no LGA to lose. For 2010, his plan is to take away all of our MVHC again, which otherwise was expected to be $566,817.

I guess the silver lining of how little aid/credits Maplewood has been getting from the state is that the governor can't take it away from us now. If you look at it on a per capita basis, the governor is taking away $14.04 per Maplewood resident this year, and $15.46 in 2010. In comparison, some our neighbors who get considerably more state aid (and whose MVHC isn't being touched because they have LGA for the governor to go after) are seeing numbers like:

North St Paul: $14.36 per capita in 2009, $33.14 in 2010
Oakdale: $11.71 in 2009, $19.54 in 2010
White Bear Lake: $8.81 in 2009, $20.34 in 2010
Saint Paul: $17.49 in 2009, $40.35 in 2010

Were I an official in some of these cities, I'd be nervous. The governor's plan cuts Oakdale's MVHC to zero, like ours, in 2010. But even with these cuts, North St Paul has another $1.7 million in Local Government Aid coming to it in 2010 ($145.75 per resident!), and their MVHC is as yet untouched. White Bear Lake will still be due more than $1.5 million in LGA ($61.81 per resident). What's to stop the state from raiding those funds if there are further declines in the state's revenue projections?

(Here's an interesting comparison, while I'm crunching these various numbers: The current per capita property tax in Maplewood averages out to $433.03, excluding MVHC. In North Saint Paul, it's $254.64. If North Saint Paul had to overnight hike its property tax to replace all of its LGA and MVHC, they would need to levy $444.64 per capita. I understand they are also a net recipient of fiscal disparities, whereas Maplewood is a net payer -- of $53.65 per resident, according to what we projected in the 2009 budget.)


Sunday, June 14, 2009


I'm fascinated by the ongoing events in Iran. There's a lot of coverage of it in the blogosphere (and a lot more of it if you speak Farsi, which I don't), but one place that I've found that seems to be doing an especially good job of linking the diverse if limited windows into what's going on (from Twitter updates by Mousavi supporters, to BBC stories, to YouTube clips uploaded by on-the-scene observers with cell phone cameras in Tehran or Isfahan) is Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish.

Update: Another top-notch blog to look at for more meaty analysis is Juan Cole's Informed Comment.

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