Sunnyside keeping close eye on finances

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Sunnyside is trying to run a tight ship to make sure its finances don't run off course. It's been a struggle for the city since auditors found serious problems a couple of years ago.

Sunnyside's financial problems have been an issue for a long time. Money's still tight, but city leaders say at least there aren't any surprises.

"We're doing okay," said Sunnyside City Manager Don Day. "I'd like to get some more wind in the sail so to speak and build up a little bit more steam."

The city had a quarter-million dollar shortfall in the general fund at the end of the first quarter. But, that was expected. Property tax revenue Sunnyside got in May closed the gap without departments taking a hit.

"We're going to try not to cut any services," said Day. "That will be the last thing that we will consider doing so it's really just a matter of watching what you're spending money on."

Sunnyside's city manager wants to build the city's reserves to cover six months' worth of expenses. That's roughly $1.7 million. It could take five years to get there.

Right now, Sunnyside only has $430,000 in reserve. That's roughly a month and a half of expenses.

"We are going to continue to build and that's where we're at," said Day. "That's the important aspect is we are in a building mode."

City Manager Don Day says the city won't buy anything unless it has the money on hand. It doesn't matter if it's already in the budget.

Sunnyside has had to pay attention to its finances since state auditors found several problems two years ago. At the time, the city was more than $600,000 in debt.

These days, Don Day goes over the finances every week. Sunnyside's city manager hopes to double the current reserve level by the end of this year.