Columbus City Administrator requests records from her last job after York officials say they’re broke

Columbus City Administrator requests records from her last job after York officials say they’re broke
Columbus City Administrator Tara Vasicek

YORK, Neb. (AP) — City officials say York must consider a whopping tax increase among other measures to address budget problems.

The York News-Times reports that Mayor Orval Stahr and City Administrator Joe Frei announced at a special council meeting Wednesday that all of the city’s unrestricted budget reserves have been spent. They also say the tax levy should be more than doubled in the next fiscal year, wages and hiring should be frozen and say more than more than $1 million has to be cut from the budget.

Frei says the problems may seem to have suddenly arisen but actually have been festering over the years. He blamed the loss of the city budget reserves on deferred assessments for property owners and the city’s habit of budgeting “high on expenses and low on revenue.”

Columbus City Administrator Tara Vasicek, who previously served as York’s City Administrator, from July 2013 to January 2017, filed a formal Public Records Request so she is able to review the 2017-18 City of York financial records. According to the York News-Times, her request, which was filed electronically Saturday afternoon, comes after York Mayor Orval Stahr and current York City Administrator Joe Frei announced last Wednesday evening that the city is suddenly in dire financial straits.

In her request, Vasicek says “pursuant to the public records law, this is a request for an electronic copy of the following records:
  • Current General Fund cash held in all checking accounts.
  • Current General Fund cash held in investments (certificates of deposit, money markets, etc.)
  • Records of all reserve withdrawals between January 2017 and present.
  • Monthly financials, reported by fund, including revenues and expenses from January 2017 through June 2018.

“The principal purpose of this is to make this information more accessible to the public and to access and disseminate information regarding the health, safety and welfare of the general public,” Vasicek says in her request according to the York News-Times.

A News Channel Nebraska review of York’s annual independent financial audit in 2017 did not identify significant issues. A copy of that audit is available by clicking here.

Another public meeting on the budget problems is scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the York Council Chambers.

Story information in this article includes content from the York News-Times and the Associated Press.

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