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County gets good news about audit

Douglas County commissioners received good news from the CliftonLarsonAllen auditing firm at their Oct. 16 meeting. The board received an unmodified or "clean" opinion based on the financial statements, which is the highest assurance they can receive.

Doug Host, a representative with the auditing firm, presented the audit summary to the Douglas County Board.

One of the highlights touched on by Host was that the county had no material audit adjustments.

"To have none is very unique. Your staff does a great job," he told the commissioners. "They should be commended and celebrated."

The Minnesota Office of the State Auditor recommends no less than five months of expenditures in the fund balance and Douglas County is at 7.91. That is an increase from the past two years, and according to Host is not too high. He said the fund balance is strong and stable.

The county's fund balance for 2017 was $31 million and expenditures were at $47 million, which Host noted was interesting because the expenditures were nearly the same in 2011 and have been pretty much the same ever since. The fund balance, however, has increased by about $10 million since 2011.

"You are monitoring your funds very closely and that's good," he said.

According to Host, the county's revenue for 2017 was at $50 million, which increased by about $1 million from 2016. Revenues exceeded expenditures by about $3 million, with expenditures decreasing by $3.4 million from 2016.

"It was a good year for the county," he said. "Everything is pretty consistent and revenues came in right where we expected."

Food and beverage ordinance

The commissioners adopted an amended food and beverage ordinance. Sandy Tubbs, director of Horizon Public Health, and Doug Breitkreutz, registered sanitarian, provided information about the changes.

Tubbs said the revisions were necessary due to the state adopting a new food code.

"Minnesota had been in the process of a new food code for about 10 years and is now adopting it," said Tubbs. "As a result, our ordinance needs to be consistent with Minnesota code."

Most of the changes were minimal and include language changes and definition changes. The new ordinance will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Prior to the board's adoption of the amended ordinance, there was a public comment period. No one from the public spoke.

However, after the public comment period, the commissioners had a couple of questions, such as what establishments does the ordinance impact and whether food trucks or food stands are different.

Breitkreutz said all restaurants are impacted by the food and beverage ordinance. As for food trucks or food stands, he said they have to be licensed, just like restaurants, but that they are licensed either through the state (Department of Agriculture) or through Horizon Public Health.

Either way, Breitkreutz and Tubbs said it's the same food code.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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