AP NEWS

City of Gering passes financial checkup

March 27, 2019

GERING — A financial audit for the 2017-18 fiscal year gave Gering a clean bill of health for all its accounting practices.

Kevin Sylvester with Dana Cole and Company presented his findings at Monday’s city council meeting and thanked the city’s staff for their time in helping him pull the information together into a formal report.

The document covered all of Gering’s governmental funds, including the enterprise funds that generate income for the city. Sylvester told council members the independent report found the city is performing quality control on all accounts in compliance with government auditing guidelines.

“This report is letting you know of any internal control or compliance matters that might be a concern for you,” Sylvester told council members. “We found one compliance issue in the area of uncollateralized bank accounts.”

Mayor Tony Kaufman said the annual auditing process, completed by an independent, outside accounting firm, is important for the city to remain on track in its financial dealings.

The audit process looks at all the city’s accounts and how funds are transferred in and out of them. The audit double checks city revenues to assure they’re aligning with budget projections, and assure all funding is going where it’s supposed to go.

“We’re financially healthy as a city,” Kaufman said. “The audit goes over everything we do and provides and independent look at what we’re doing.”

Kaufman said compliance issues are usually caused by city policy that might be unfamiliar to an outside auditing firm.

“I think the bank account compliance issue might have been the result of our lack of a financial director at the helm,” he said. “Those issues would probably have been caught by a financial director.”

Gering has been without a treasurer since last December when council members dismissed 12-year city treasurer and finance director John Mejia.

Gering has advertised for the position, but no qualified people came forward. Kaufman said city staff has been working on revising the job description qualifications and will advertise for the position again soon, which will remain open until filled.

Also during Monday’s meeting, council approved $37,000 in LB 840 economic development grant funding to Sizzlin’ Sirloin Steakhouse, which will officially open May 1 in Terrytown.

With council members Troy Cowan and Dan Smith absent, the vote was 5-1 to approve the funding.

Council member Ben Backus was the lone “no” vote, saying he was uncomfortable giving financial support to a business that isn’t in Gering.

Kaufman said he attended the LB 840 Application Review Committee meeting and its members had similar concerns. He explained that while the business wasn’t officially in Gering proper, the restaurant would generate both new jobs and new economic development for the entire community.