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Wells ends year more than $16K in black

By Staff | Jan 31, 2011

Federal and state lawmakers could take a lesson from the Wells City Council on how to balance a budget.

In fact, the city finished last year with a surplus of more than $16,000.

“I’m happy to see we have a figure that’s in the black,” says Mayor Ron Gaines. “I commend Jeremy (Germann) and the department heads for their hard work.”

Gaines was referring to additional budget cuts made once the city found out state aid was going to be reduced more than expected.

“We had to make some sacrifices and tough decisions, like turning off some of the street lights. It was all in an attempt to be more efficient,” says City Administrator Jeremy Germann.

At Monday night’s council meeting, a report in council packets showed revenues last year of $5.103 million and expenditures of $5.087 million.

Germann says the figures are preliminary and that an official audit was started on Jan. 18.

The council also received some more good financial news.

Fees collected and dollar values from building permits increased last year.

In 2009, building permit fees for residential totaled $3,276 and $1,295 for commercial. Last year the amount rose to $7,263 and $2,992 respectively.

The value of commercial permits was $322,510 in 2009, compared to $1.0575 million last year. For residential, the total value went from $285,906 to $1.1305 million.

In another matter, the council has asked Germann to compile the city’s costs associated with operation of the airport.

In the past, residents have questioned whether the city should be subsidizing a private business — Wells Aviation.

Councilman Jim Durfee agrees, saying he wants a breakdown of expenses to determine if they are business-related.

“With cuts in state aid, the city is struggling with money issues. If the business is making money, they should pay the city so we at least break even,” says Durfee.

The council approved a resolution authorizing a cooperative agreement between Wells and Winnebago to apply for a Small Cities Development Program grant for housing and commercial rehabilitation projects.

Chris Elvebak, the city’s community development director, was on hand to answer any questions council members might have.

Elvebak explained a study of buildings located in the downtown area, which is designated as “slum and blighted.”

The results show of the 76 buildings, 45 are considered to be structurally substandard and one is identified as dilapidated.

In Wells, a waiting list of 41 housing and 18 commercial building rehabilitation projects has been compiled. Winnebago has 21 interested in fixing up their homes and six commercial.

The cooperative agreement has a goal of completing 12 housing and four commercial projects in Wells, and six housing and one commercial in Winnebago.

City officials have until Feb. 10 to apply for the rehab grant.