Johnstown ready to file overdue financial docs; planning for $12M in bonds once eligible


Exterior of Johnstown City Hall, 2753 Route 29, Johnstown.

JOHNSTOWN — After more than three years, the city of Johnstown is ready to file an annual financial document to the state Comptroller’s Office, which in part has been holding up the municipality’s ability to bond for projects. The city is waiting for an error on the state’s website to be corrected before it can hit send. 

“The 2019 AUD (annual update document) hasn’t been submitted yet, there is an error on the state site because the site doesn’t like a municipality filing more than one AUD per year,” said Thomas Herr, the city treasurer. “We are waiting for the state to clear the error on the site and [it] will be submitted once we can.”

The document was due 120 days after the close of the 2019 fiscal year. However, the prior administration never filed the document and once the new administration took over it was left with filing the financial paperwork.

“It was a lot of footwork but we put it together,” said Mayor Amy Praught. 

Praught said, when her administration started its term, former Treasurer Mike Gifford refused to provide the password to the financial software he had been using. That software was out of date as well and the company no longer existed, making it even more difficult to access the information needed to file the documents, Praught said. 

“It took us several months, but we were able to break into that system,” she said. 

Herr said the city has to wait for the Comptroller’s Office to approve the 2019 document and then unlock the 2020 one so they can file that too. 

The state might have some questions that we will then have to answer,” Herr said in an email. “So I can’t say exactly when 2020 would be completed until we hear from the state. But once we do, it shouldn’t take more than a couple weeks.”

Herr said he and Deputy Treasurer Cindy Albertine have been putting together information that the accounting firm PKF O’Connor Davies will need to complete the 2020 document. 

The city is paying the accounting firm $3,500 per document. 

Once those documents are filed, the city will be able to bond for $11 to $12 million in projects, Praught said. She anticipates going to bond in the next month or so.

Of that total, $4.5 million would go toward items like the city’s plan to put in LED street lights — something that’s been in the works for a few years. It would also cover replacing some trucks for the Department of Public Works, like plow trucks, and fixing issues with the department’s building, such as its roof. 

Another $7.2 million would be put toward water infrastructure upgrades, Praught said. 

Praught said, with the filing of the AUDs, she doesn’t think there will be any questions about the city’s fiscal stability.

The general fund balance for the city is $1,902,853 and the city has $868,236 in reserves, according to Herr.

By Shenandoah Briere

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