WHEATFIELD – An outside audit of the town’s financial records for 2013 shows that all the town’s funds have surpluses for the first time since Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe succeeded Timothy R. Demler in 2010.
“All your governmental funds are in the black. It’s the first time in several years you can say that,” auditor Matthew Montalvo of the Drescher & Malecki accounting firm told the Town Board last week.
Although most funds had broken into positive numbers before 2013, “The fire districts were the last one,” Montalvo said.
The fire district fund showed a $58,000 positive balance at the end of 2013. In 2009, Demler’s last year in office, the fire fund was more than $200,000 in the hole.
The fund’s condition improved by more than $100,000 in 2013 alone, as it was $67,000 under water at the end of 2012.
The highway fund, which was more than $400,000 in the red in Demler’s final year, now has a positive balance of more than $800,000.
The town instituted a highway tax when Cliffe took office, a tax that was gradually decreased in 2012 and 2013, and removed for 2014.
The general fund, which broke into the black in Cliffe’s first year in office, has continued to build surpluses. As of the end of 2013, the general fund balance was more than $2.1 million. About $1.6 million of that is unappropriated.
Montalvo said the general fund balance has reached 35 percent of spending, substantially more than the 15 percent to 20 percent he said is recommended by the State Comptroller’s Office. The highway fund balance is between 20 percent and 25 percent of spending, Montalvo added.
“Who knows what too much or too little fund balance is?” Cliffe asked. “You don’t want to be in a deficit position.”
The general fund spent about $3.6 million last year, while revenues for the fund topped the $4 million mark.
However, Cliffe was concerned about rising health insurance costs. “We are taking a very serious look at health insurance,” he said.
The supervisor said he is interested in the possibilities of a county wide health insurance consortium. A feasibility study on that proposal is about to begin.
“We have no general tax. We have no highway tax,” Cliffe said. He asked Montalvo if the town had to impose a tax for 2015, how it would know whether or not it was exceeding the 2 percent tax cap. Montalvo said it would have to be measured against the total levy.
In other matters last week, the Town Board awarded a $22,941 contract to Pipe Eye Sewer Services of Bradford, Pa., to clean pipes in the town’s southern drainage system.
Town Engineer Timothy Zuber said the pipes range from 18 inches to 48 inches in diameter.
The board also decided to buy a salter for a Highway Department dump truck from Valley Fabrication of Boston for $13,620, and a Chevrolet Cruze for the Building Inspection Department for $17,000.
Cliffe also announced that the state Department of Transportation has approved a 25 mph speed limit zone around Errick Road Elementary School. Highway Superintendent Arthur F. Kroening said signs will be posted soon.