Hopkins expenses are slightly below average for second quarter

by Gabby Landsverk, Sun Sailor Newspapers

The numbers are in for the city of Hopkins’ second-quarter financial report, which shows 45.93 percent of the city’s budget has been spent for the year, according to a report presented to the City Council, July 12. City Finance Director Christine Harkess said it indicates a healthy financial outlook for the city, but isn’t unusually low.
“If budget was evenly spread throughout the year, you would expect it to be 50 percent at the second quarter. … There’s nothing that sticks out so far this year,” Harkess said. “It’s still on target. Good news, but we need to keep it that way for the rest of the year.”
Harkess also reported the city currently holds $18.52 million in cash and investments, compared to approximately $22 million at this time last year.
“It’s in the same ballpark given the number of projects we have this year,” she said. “You’d think that $18 million is a lot of money, but a lot of that is reserved for specific purposes, such as debt service or capital projects.”
One highlight of the financial report, Harkess said, in the increase in economic development activity, leading to more revenue for the city from license and permit fees as well as service charges.
“People are remodeling, people are adding on; … that has helped drive the revenue to where it is,” Harkess said.
She added that the city had also been successful applying to grant funding this year, which also improved the budget outlook.
Overall, Harkess added, city staff do an excellent job of keeping Hopkins financially stable.
“I’m very impressed with how people in all the departments are very conscientious of how they manage their budgets,” she said.

In other business, the Hopkins City Council accepted a grant of $2,000 from CenterPoint Energy to purchase four gas monitors for the Fire Department.
The council also approved an engineering services agreement with AE2S Inc. for rehabilitation of the city’s sanitary sewer lift station 7, located near Eighth Street South and Sixth Avenue South.
“This is a very significant sanitary sewer and lift station for Hopkins,” said Public Works Director Steve Stadler. “It’s our largest station and pumps about half a million gallons of sanitary sewage a day.”
According to city staff, the lift station is currently more than 40 years old.
“Because of the design, it’s more difficult for us to repair and maintain,” Stadler said.
The total cost of the agreement for engineering services is $70,088. Bids are expected to be advertised for the rehabilitation work in late fall or winter of 2016, with construct to begin in spring of 2017 and finish in September 2017.