The Town of Elma is in solid financial shape, according to auditor Wayne Dreschler.
The independent auditor’s report, which is given annually and covers the year 2012, pegged the general fund balance at $1,546,000 and was reviewed at a work session Wednesday.
State auditors do not want fund balances – or savings accounts – to grow too large, preferring that the money be used to reduce property taxes. However, Elma has no town tax.
The general fund supports the administration of town government and town buildings and is supported by revenues of $2.8 million from sales tax, town clerk fees, fines, forfeitures from the court, state aid, and mortgage tax revenues from sales and mortgages on properties.
Expenses were for general administration, culture and recreation, and community. The biggest expense was for health care, which was $21,000 individually. However, by going to a higher deductible through Independent Health Carrier, the town was able to cut that amount to $15,500.
Supervisor Dennis Powers and former Supervisor Michael Nolan, who is now a councilman, gave the employees credit for cutting expenses as they bear the burden.
“They still have good coverage and we have good cooperation of our employees,” said Nolan.
Pension costs for 2012 were reduced by cutting jobs through attrition and not filling slots, combining jobs such as the tax collector and town clerk, sharing jobs, and hiring part-timers.
Dreschler said “You controlled pension costs by reducing your salary costs.” The town has only one employee with a title one pension plan.
Nolan added that the town has saved $700,000 over the past 10 years: “All employee -borne, little by little.”
The Highway Department has a fund balance of $496,000 from a $1.2 million budget and is the best shape in years. Not much was spent on snow removal in 2012, nor were there many road repairs.
The Water Department has a fund balance of $976,000, with some of it earmarked for future projects such as painting water tanks. The lines are over 50 years old and the water rates have not been raised in three years.
The Fire Protection District – which comprises the separate fire houses of Blossom, Jamison Road and Elma – has a deficit of $226,000. Dreschler said he would like to see this go down. Payments are made to a central dispatch service and into pension plan for firefighters.
Powers noted that the town’s volunteer base is a huge benefit to the tax base. He praised all the organizations in town that devote their time to the community, which enables the Town Board to keep costs down.
The report pointed out a few minor issues to be corrected:
• Departments tend to overspend and then fix it later. Dreschler suggested that they be required to ask the Town Board for permission before overspending their budgets.
• A State Parks and Recreation grant of $50,000 is from a project completed 3 years ago has still to be collected.
Dreschler suggested that bank reconciliation needs a more formal approach, and a set time-table.
All in all, Drescher said his report reflected a solid fiscal year.