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City of Oskaloosa will upgrade accounting software

by Dennis Sharkey

An upgrade to the city of Oskaloosa’s accounting software is the key to unlocking the city’s finance mysteries.

Accountant Abram Chrislip met with the council last Thursday, Jan. 20, to get questions answered and to clear confusion.

At the city’s previous meeting council members and city staff were confused about where the city’s cash balances stood. Some funds existed one year but did not the next while other funds’ names would change from year to year.

Council members are trying to find more than $100,000 that should exist, but accounting adjustments have left city employees looking for the money.

Chrislip explained that some funds changed names because projects were completed and closed out. Leftover cash balances were then transferred into other funds for new or other existing projects.

Questions arose last month when council members were looking for money to renovate the old Harvey’s Hardware building into a new City Hall.

“Whatever we call these things I’m just trying to figure out much money we have,” commented councilman Allen Wise. “We need to know that we have the funds to (renovate City Hall).”

Chrislip said the confusion is coming from the city’s accounting software. Changes are made each year when his firm formulates a budget for the city and when they perform year adjustments. However, the adjustments do not show on the city’s end because the software being utilized is not only out-of-date, but is not designed for city government use.

“If you were a company it would be just fine,” Chrislip said. “In the corporate world you don’t track things by multiple funds. That’s kind of unique to governments.”

City Treasurer Polly McInroy said the software being used now was purchased before she became employed by the city in 2001.

Chrislip said Oskaloosa is the only government client his firm has that does not use accounting software intended for government entities that track multiple funds.

Councilmen came to a consensus that new software needs to be purchased but Chrislip warned that software is expensive.

“So is losing $104,000 in our budget,” Mayor Mike Boyd replied. “It’s somewhere in our budget we just don’t know where it’s at.”

Chrislip said he would put city staff in touch with other city clerks his firm works with so they can decide which software will work for Oskaloosa. Chrislip hesitated to make a recommendation because he does not use the software in the same manner that city employees would.

“I know how to use them from the point of getting what I need for the audit out of it,” he said. “But I’m not doing the day-to-day data entry.”

Chrislip will also begin reviewing 2010 numbers this week to get an accurate real time figure for cash balances.

In other actions:

  • City employee Brad Lowrence will be leaving the city to take a position with the city of Lawrence. His last day was Frida. After a brief discussion the council decided they would seek a full-time replacement. City Superintendent Bill Heard said his department could keep running without a full-time person but that it would be difficult. Heard and Boyd also expressed some concern about not having enough manpower for emergencies and for snow removal.
  • The council approved the 2011 holiday schedule for employees. The council had to have a special meeting last month to approve Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

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Posted by on Feb 2 2011. Filed under Government, Municipalities, Oskaloosa. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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