By SUE SUCHYTA
HEIGHTS – The City Council passed a resolution Nov. 10 to direct the city treasurer’s office to establish separate bank accounts for city restricted and assigned corporate funds.
Councilmembers Bill Bazzi, Lisa Hicks-Clayton, Denise Malinowski-Maxwell, Ray Muscat and Tom Wencel supported the resolution, with Dave Abdallah and Bob Constan opposed.
Muscat said he would like to see the city’s restricted funds be somewhere other than with general funds, but he is worried about a possible reduction of the city’s bond rating.
“There are some serious things that we need to think about,” he said. “With restricted funds being in the general fund, I don’t know if council ever knows when the money is being used, and if it is, when was it ever put back, and should it be paid back with interest.”
Abdallah said he wasn’t comfortable moving forward with the resolution, but he would like to see a study session with the council, the mayor, a representative from the city’s engineering firm, and the outgoing and incoming city treasurers.
Hicks-Clayton reminded the council that the body is obligated to uphold local ordinances and state and federal laws.
“This is one of the things with the charter,” she said. “It’s clearly defined that those accounts that are restricted need to be separate. We can refer back to the CSO (combined sewer overflow) overcharged taxes, which occurred from 2007 to 2015.”
Hicks-Clayton, who defeated Constan in the race for city treasurer Nov. 3, promised the council that, as treasurer, she will provide them with monthly reports on the balances of all the restricted funds.
“That is how we avoid that kind of situation and taxation that was not necessary,” she said. “This is about transparency and following the charter.”
Constan said that this is just an overall question of cash flow.
Muscat called for a future study session.
“I would love to see these things more under control, but I would like to be able to have some leeway, one way or the other,” he said.
Bazzi said he shares Hicks-Clayton’s concern over moving funds.
“We need to put a stop to that,” he said. “Obviously, it hasn’t stopped, even with Plante-Moran writing it as moving funds between accounts, and the only way to prevent that from happening is to divide it.”