City financial health improves, analyst says

Yukon’s finances are in the best shape they have been in since at least 2012, city officials were told this week.

Frank Crawford, a forensic auditor hired by the city, said Yukon’s overall financial health score ranks on his scale at 6.6 out of 10. That is a significant improvement over previous years.

The score combines findings for the city’s financial position, financial performance and financial capabilities to come up with an overall score in Crawford’s “Performeter” scale, which is nationally recognized.

Any score above 6 is considered good.

Crawford said that no city can score a zero, nor can they score a 10.

This year’s overall score of 6.6 is well above the 5.5 the city received last year.

It is the highest level the city has been at since 2012, when the city would have received a 6.2.

Yukon began seeing declines in its score in 2013 and reached its lowest level of 4.8 in fiscal year 2015, which also coincides with the city’s financial woes. During December 2015, officials learned the city had less than $3,000 remaining in its reserve accounts.

That prompted an investigation and led to changes in city management. Then-City Manager Grayson Bottom resigned after city council members declined to renew his contract.

Crawford said Yukon’s current financial health and performance continues to be “above satisfactory and has improved its scores of the prior year.”

The overall financial performance of the city was a highlight, scoring a 9.7, which is about as high as can be achieved, Crawford said.

“This is a 20 percent improvement over last year,” Crawford said.

The city’s lowest score was for financial position, which was a 4.2. However, even that is an improvement over previous years.

The city’s financial capabilities, which includes the sustainability of the city’s finances, scored a 5.4, which is satisfactory. That number is satisfactory, but improvement is continuing.

“Realistically, we should probably be in the low 7s. I think that is a really good target score. Very few governments get into the low 8s,” he said.

Cities such as Edmond and Ardmore are frequently in the low 7s or upper 6s, he said.

“We need to continue these performances. The better we perform, the better the position improves,” he said.

Crawford said he anticipates that Yukon’s score will continue to improve, though it won’t likely grow by significant numbers.

“The more money we sock away, the more we reimburse those general fund reserves that had been depleted, the better we fund our pension plan. I don’t see anything that indicates anything is going to go down,” he said.

The goal, he said, would be for the city to avoid overspending.

Crawford said Yukon has recovered from 2015 faster than expected. Yukon’s reserve account now has more than $6 million. Crawford said he had expected it to take at least five years to complete the turnaround. However, it was accomplished in just three years.

Mayor Michael McEachern asked how the city had accomplished that.

Crawford said the city has done a good job of monitoring and limiting its spending.

“You are controlling your spending. It is like your personal checkbook. If you keep writing checks and don’t make deposit, you put brackets around the numbers. Brackets around numbers are not good. We need to stay out of the brackets. That’s what we’ve done,” he said. “We’ve been digging out of a deep hole.”

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