It was more of a financial workshop than an ‘official’ special session of the Edgerton Village Council that was held on the evening of December 14, but the subject matter discussed may well reverberate through the community for generations to come.
No roll calls were taken. No official actions were taken. The only business to be addressed was that of discussion of the proposed 2017 budget, the five-year forecast of capital needs, and the ongoing Village of Edgerton Financial Recovery Plan.
Department heads of the Village were brought into the meeting individually for fifteen minute sessions to discuss the five-year capital needs forecast with Councilors, Village Mayor Lance Bowsher, and Village Administrator Dawn Fitzcharles. Each department discussed anticipated needs over the next five years, and how those needs were being addressed in the capital forecast. The budgetary and financial turmoil that has dominated the news in the Village over the past few years remained an undercurrent during the discussions, but never did it fully surface or reflect in any form of tension or disagreement during any of the department head meetings. All departments have made the necessary adjustments and adaptations to the required fiscal belt tightening as the Village continues to rise above the sea of red ink that brought about intervention at the State level. Mayor Bowsher, Ms. Fitzcharles, and the Councilors present were lavish with praises for the department heads and the Village employees who have, with time and innovative thinking, turned the proverbial Village fiscal lemons into lemonade.
After meeting with the department heads, Belinda Miller and Cynthia McCafferty of the Auditor of the State’s Office, came in for a detailed meeting pertaining to the ongoing Village of Edgerton Financial Recovery Plan. As part of the 36-page update of the Financial Recovery Plan, the full background, purpose and timing of the plan and the events that brought about its implementation was detailed, stating…
At the request of the Mayor of the Village of Edgerton, the Auditor of the State’s Office conducted an analysis of the Village to determine if the financial condition of the Village had deteriorated to the point that a declaration of fiscal watch or fiscal emergency was appropriate.
The analysis identified the existence of one fiscal emergency condition and declared the Village to be in fiscal emergency on December 17, 2013. The declaration of fiscal emergency prompted the creation of a Financial Planning and Supervision Committee to oversee and direct the Village’s financial recovery. By statute, the Village Council must adopt a recovery plan and submit the plan to the Commission for approval within one hundred twenty days of the Commission’s first meeting.
The purpose of the plan is to identify the steps that have been or will be taken by the Village to eliminate the fiscal emergency conditions identified in the analysis. For each step, the plan discloses estimated commencement and completion dates. In addition, the plan contains assurances that the Village’s actions will conform to State statute regarding budgeting and appropriating and that the Village will adhere to monthly limitations for expenditures and encumbrances that are consistent with the plan.
The initial meeting of the Financial Planning and Supervision Committee was held on April 9, 2014. The original plan was adopted by the Council of the Village of Edgerton on June 23, 2014. The plan will be amended as needed but, at a minimum, once a year.
In order to better envision the results of the proposed corrective actions, the plan includes a financial forecast for the next five years. The forecast includes estimated revenues and expenditures for each fund of the village, specifically identifying the changes generated by each corrective action. The Plan also contains a list of anticipated capital acquisitions and detailed schedules of the Village’s required debt service payments.
Also presented was the 24-page five-year financial forecast, detailing the estimated revenues and expenditures for each fund of the Village.
The forecast also included the full data for years 2014 and 2015, allowing for the desired identification of the changes generated by corrective action that have been undertaken.
Ms. Miller only touched on the highlights of the five-year forecasts by fund in the 36-page report, and concluded by saying, “That’s your recovery plan; it looks pretty good. Our expectation would be, that if you approve this at the Monday night (December 19) Council meeting, and your budget would mirror your recovery plan like it has in the past, what I would expect is that when the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission meet at their next meeting (March 9, 2017), I will make the recommendation to terminate the fiscal emergency to the Commission.”
Three years and two days after the Village of Edgerton was declared to be in a state of fiscal emergency, the Village Council is in a position to close the book on one of the darkest chapters in the history of the Village. The Council meeting of December 19 stands to be one of a happy historical precedent.
Timothy Kays can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org