Wakefield city hires new auditing firm from Houghton


January 12, 2023


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Wakefield — The Wakefield City Council voted on Monday evening to hire a Houghton accounting firm to address city audits.

City Manager Rob Brown, Jr. informed the Globe on Tuesday that the council agreed to hire Rukkila, Negro & Associates, CPAs, PC to handle auditing for a period of three fiscal years beginning with 2021-2022.

The grand total of the 3-year cost is expected to range from $60,000-$71,000. Brown also informed the council that, if the city spends more than $750,000 of federal assistance within any fiscal year covered in the agreement, the firm will negotiate a fee increase.

Brown detailed in the agenda packet that Makela, Pollack & Ahonen, PLLC, in Ironwood had been the city’s auditor for more than 10 years. However, after presenting the city’s 2020-2021 audit, it sent notification that it will discontinue its auditing services.

Last year, City Treasurer Mandy Lake then posted a Request for Qualifications and Proposals in September, and the Houghton firm answered it on Dec. 20.

Beyond auditing, Brown reported that the newly hired firm “will assist the city with other services, such as helping the city in the preparation of financial statements, calculations of the Other Post-Employment Benefits accounts, F-65 filings, and maintaining the city’s depreciation schedule.”

In other news, the council also voted to pay $662 toward insurance for the Michigan Western Gateway Trail Authority, which is a primary manager of the Iron Belle Trail.

However, Brown told the Globe that the city’s participation will be reevaluated next year.

In an agenda report to the council, Brown noted that he has not found any formal agreement that mandates the city’s assistance with MWGTA’s insurance. “Historically, the city does support the MWGTA and values its mission to develop a trail network,” he noted.

Nevertheless, he added, “Considering the trail development appears deadlocked in Ramsay, Michigan, some questions have been raised regarding the city’s participation in the MWGTA and the use of city funds to assist with insurance costs.”

According to the city manager, council members also:

—Voted to support the recommendation of Mayor Dale White to reappoint Tara Hamilton and Dion DelFavero to the Planning Commission. Their current terms began on Jan. 1 and will expire on Dec. 31, 2025. The openings were advertised, and no other persons applied.

—Received a Dec. 12 report from Anderson, Tackman & Company, PLC in Iron Mountain, in relation to an audit of Wakefield Housing Commission financial statements for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2022. The report noted no “lack of authoritative guidance or consensus” and added, “All significant transactions have been recognized in the financial statements in the proper period.”

—Voted to approve two easements requested by Xcel Energy and to authorize the city manager and City Attorney Ray O’Dea to execute the agreements. As Brown explained in agenda materials, “Xcel Energy needs to rebuild portions of an existing 34.5 kV transmission line located within the city of Wakefield.” If easements are completed within 30 days, Brown said the resulting revenue for the city could be $8,217.24,

—Voted to approve the renewal of a lease relating to the parking lot area of Michigan State Police Post 87 in Wakefield. Via Resolution 317, the 3-year renewal will include a fee of $1,000 per year.

—Voted to fund enhanced parts, at a cost not exceeding $14,000, for a snow thrower used with the city plow.

—Voted to sign an agreement with the Wakefield-Marenisco School District to continue the city’s policy of collecting the district’s summer property tax funds, after which the district will pay the city 1% of the amount of taxes levied in exchange for the city issuing the district its portion of the collections.

—Voted to approve the annual equipment rental rate for 2023, as presented by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The council’s next regular meeting will be on Jan. 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers of the municipal building. This will be a joint session with the Planning Commission. The public is welcome.


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