BERRIEN SPRINGS — The village of Berrien Springs is in excellent financial shape and is the poster child of how local governments should operate, auditor Kenley Penner told Village Council members Monday.
Penner, a partner with Plante Moran, presented the results of his firm’s audit of village financial records for the 2018-19 year that ended June 30. “The most important thing you will hear me say tonight is that you received an unmodified, clean opinion,” he said. “That’s the highest level of assurance we can give.”
“Your financial health is very strong, you’re the envy of surrounding communities and a poster child of what governments should do,” he added. “You’ve had a lot of years of managing your funds extremely well.”
Village President Milt Richter credited everyone working as a team. “Everybody works together to get the job done,” he said. “I get all giggly to see an audit like this. We’re going to continue on the right track. I want to thank everyone for helping us be in the financial position we’re in. We just had a great year.”
Penner reported that the village’s general fund ended the year with $1.044 million in revenue and $851,083 in expenditures. That surplus allowed the village to add more than $100,000 to the general fund reserves, which now stand at over $3.8 million.
He pointed out that the general fund reserves increased even as the village paid down long-term debt and capital leases of nearly $540,000. The year also saw the end of the $354,000 Mars Street reconstruction project, as well as the start of the Julius Street Outfall engineering project and a new well project.
He noted that the revenue has continued to trend upward over the last five years while expenditures have generally gone down over that same time period. Each year of the last five has also recorded a general fund budget surplus.
“You have a very, very healthy fund balance,” Penner said. “Your actual expenditures each year have come in significantly under budget which is what makes for a healthy fund balance. You have shown solid financial leadership.”
He also reported on the village’s other funds. The wastewater fund had revenue increase after a rate hike and still ended up breaking even after interest payments were added into expenditures. Similarly, the water fund basically broke even after a rate hike. The Shamrock Park fund showed a surplus, recovering from 2018 when flooding wreaked havoc on the park and on the budget.
Penner said the village’s pension fund saw a small downtick, but is still well funded with assets at 80 percent compared to liabilities.
He said the pension fund numbers were calculated at the end of 2018 when the market was down, compared to today.
Council members will hold a workshop Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the village hall to discuss the village’s future. Trustee Jesse Hibler said the workshop will focus on finding ways to market the village and spread the message of the infrastructure and other work the village has done in recent years.