Marshfield alderman address issues with TIF funds
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield aldermen will use more than a million dollars to adjust past accounting practices and streamline the process going forward. With Alderman Nick Poeschel absent, the Marshfield Common Council voted 9-0 during a Jan. 31 special meeting to transfer $1.5 million from the city’s general fund to various tax-increment financing districts (TIFs).
City Finance Director Ron Aumann was asking for the money transfer. He said past accounting practices might not be incorrect, they just did not reflect the true revenues or debts of certain TIF districts within the city.
“This is a budgetary issue,” Aumann said. “The real problem is that more and more funds were being budgeted as TIF transfers, so that amount keeps growing and growing and when you stop, it is like you are pulling a revenue source out of the debt service fund. So, what should have happened, it should have been a general fund budgeted item or cut to make up that, so when you stop these excess transfers above the debt schedule that is the problem – it’s a budgetary problem.”
Alderman Tom Witzel tried to simplify the change in accounting methods Aumann was proposing.
“Right now there are big buckets – a big bucket of debt, a big bucket of something else – and you are looking to divvy up into smaller buckets, so you can more easily keep track of stuff. So, big buckets become small buckets – better transparency,” he said.
The council’s action to transfer the $1.5 million will clean up the accounting of the city’s TIF districts between 2011 and 2017.
City Administrator Steve Barg said that will mean the $1.5 million will not be available for other uses within the city, even though the city’s general fund totals more than $6 million.
The transitioning in accounting methods will establish a new streamlined process, but will also remove a revenue source for the budget years after 2017. The city will now need to address the deficit.
“Ron and I used the phrase in his office earlier today, ‘no stone unturned,’ in terms of looking at options for additional revenue for expenditure cuts that would be reasonable,” Barg said. “Everything is on the table, and I don’t want to say that in a sense of panic or those types of things, I just mean that you will be seeing and hearing a lot in the coming days and weeks of what options might be to mitigate as much of that as we reasonably can.”