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posted: 7/10/2013 5:30 AM

Palatine back on stable financial footing, officials say

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Palatine officials say a recent audit confirms their position that the village has in fact weathered the economic downturn to get back on stable financial footing.

A highlight in Sikich LLP's comprehensive annual financial report for the 2012 fiscal year is the $1.9 million surplus in Palatine's general fund, the result of fiscal restraint combined with multiple revenue streams coming in stronger than expected.

"Just because the budget is adopted doesn't mean we spend every dollar that's in the budget," Village Manager Reid Ottesen said. "We find ways to do things more efficiently and effectively. If we have savings, we don't necessarily look at where we can allocate those dollars to spend."

The surplus increased the village's year-end fund balance to $20.8 million, which exceeds the goal of having four months' worth of operating expenses in reserves on top of a $1 million "economic stabilization" fund.

The excess funds, which total about $2.9 million when coupled with other funds that have come in, will be transferred to Palatine's capital improvement program. Ottesen said the staff will present the village council with its recommendation for appropriation next month.

He noted that last year, the village was able to purchase a ladder truck for the fire department before prices jumped.

The village's financial performance resulted in Palatine slightly reducing its property tax levy for the second consecutive year.

The audit also included an "unqualified opinion" by Sikich, which signifies that auditors believe the village's finances are sound. It is the highest opinion the auditor company can give.

The report will be submitted to the Cook County clerk, state comptroller, federal grant agencies and other interested oversight and bonding agencies.

Ottesen did caution that Palatine remains in a "vulnerable" position.

"We're just one bad vote out of Springfield from having all this turned upside down and needing to use the fund balance," he said.

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