COLUMBIA, Mo 9/15/14 (Beat Byte) --
A Downtown Columbia Leadership Council (DCLC) report that calls out city administrators
for failing to establish and monetize a so-called "Depreciation Fund" to replace aging infrastructure is no surprise to retired City of Columbia public works superintendent Bill Weitkemper
"I was concerned with depreciation six months ago," Weitkemper -- who won the first annual Ed Robb Public Service Award
-- told the Heart Beat.
For months, he has peppered City Council members and city management with emails questioning their utility and infrastructure decisions. The Council is poised to raise dozens of utility rates, fees, and fines
at tonight's meeting.
After reviewing city manager Mike Matthes'
2014 annual budget, Weitkemper saw plans to write down -- or depreciate -- $19,047,892
in assets held by the four major city-owned utilities: water, electric, sewer, and stormwater
Depreciation is the primary way organizations account for the cost of age
, usually on large or expensive items.
is being depreciated (structures and/or pipes) and where is that money going
?" Weitkemper asked in a Feb. 15 email.
At least part of the money must go into a Depreciation Fund,
according to the Columbia City Charter and a separate city ordinance. On an accountant's balance sheet, where all sums must cancel out, a depreciation entry might look like:Depreciation: -$19,047,892Depreciation Fund: +$19,047,892
But like the DCLC, Weitkemper found no entries indicating any plans to pay for depreciation. "Depreciation money should be kept separate
and used to replace whatever was depreciated
," he explained.
Rather than keep the money in a separate account restricted for aging infrastructure, city administrators instead put it in so-called "Unrestricted" accounts
where it can be freely used for new development.
Weitkemper raised concerns over new development subsidies with Council members last week.