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FARMER CITY - It may have been worth the wait for the Farmer City Council to receive its overdue audit, which showed most of the city's funds were in good shape at the end of the year.

The audit was due at the end of December, but was delayed because of problems with the city's accounting system, said City Manager David Joswiak.

The general fund had a balance of $419,000 and the electric/light plant fund had nearly $3 million at the end of fiscal year 2006, which officially ended in May 2006.

"Hopefully, that's the last year (it is late)," Joswiak said. "We hope to have it done in a more timely manner this year."

The only funds with a deficit were the two tax increment financing funds, but Joswiak said TIF II would be out of the red in the 2007 audit. TIF I still will show a deficit because it is paying back the electric fund for the Main Street resurfacing project.

Want study to be unbiased

Council members, who met earlier this week, also received preliminary information on a study to determine the potential fiscal impact of development within the city.

Alderman Chico Parr clarified the study was "not a competition between the fairgrounds and interstate property," and fellow council member Joe Newberry wanted to make sure the study was unbiased.

He questioned correspondence from the researcher to Joswiak that asked the city to confirm types of businesses they wished to "include as likely development targets in the fiscal impact analysis of the proposed land swap."

"From the statement he made, it doesn't seem like it will be a fair evaluation of both properties," Newberry said, referring to the land swap reference.

Joswiak said researchers are evaluating "all properties" within the city, and "I reiterate that to him every time I talk to him."

The $5,500 study from the Institute of Rural Affairs has identified a list of business types that are candidates for setting up shop in Farmer City. The study evaluated materials and products coming to the area from more than 150 miles away as candidates that could be lured to Farmer City. That includes data processing, fabricated metal manufacturing, trucking services and the making of motor vehicle parts.

Researchers also feel a labor pool would not be a problem, since Farmer City is only 30 miles from Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal, and only 40 miles from Decatur.

The city hopes to have the full report by early August, before an Aug. 13 public hearing to consider a proposed land swap of the city-owned fairground for the fair association-owned South Park.

The fair association also has offered 20 to 25 acres of interstate property as part of the deal.

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