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Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Speculator, NY ,
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Water and sewer revenues are still too low

Monday, April 28, 2014 - Updated: 9:20 AM

By CRISTINE MEIXNER

Editor

SPECULATOR -- A recent audit of the Village of Speculator's financial condition shows the same problem that has plagued village officials for years.

The Office of the State Comptroller pointed out neither the water nor the sewer funds were self-supporting from June 1, 2009 through Aug. 31, 2013. As a result loans were made from the general fund to keep the others afloat.

The audit says the water and sewer funds ended the 2012-13 fiscal year with deficits of $181,522 in the water fund and $10,424 in the sewer fund. The audit blames this on overestimating water and sewer revenues in village budgets.

The deficits are despite raising both water and sewer rates Aug. 1, 2011; substantially Feb. 1, 2012; and a bit more Aug. 1, 2013.

Looking ahead, the audit projects the village's 2013-14 estimated revenues for both water and sewer rents to be overestimated by at least $30,000 each.

"The poor financial condition of the water and sewer funds has negatively impacted the cash flow of the village's general fund," the report points out.

As of Aug. 31, 2013 the water fund owed the general fund $173,407 and the sewer fund owed it $13,363, according to village Treasurer Bonnie Page.

The audit recommends the Board of Trustees adopt budgets with realistic revenue estimates, review all outstanding interfund loans and take action to repay them as soon as possible, and develop a plan to eliminate the fund balance deficits.

IT'LL TAKE TIME

In a March 28 letter to the Office of the State Comptroller Mayor Letty Rudes says, "With the current budget process, the board is working toward realistic estimates and to balance expenses with income at a rate that will be acceptable by the users.

"The outstanding interfund loans will be paid back gradually as the increase in fees and its affect on the customers will allow. There is a true desire of the Board of Trustees to have the Water and Sewer funds self-supporting to alleviate the stress on the General Fund.

"Knowing that this situation was not created overnight, it is understandable that it will not be corrected in a short period of time."

NO RESERVE FUNDS

Without fund balances, no reserve funds can be established for the water and sewer departments. And they never have fund balances.

"Unfortunately, sewer and water will never have a reserve fund," Rudes said while reviewing the draft budget April 14.

"Sure we will, if you charge enough," Wastewater Chief Operator Florence Braunius replied.

Rudes also said sewer revenues are $100,000 short "and won't be made up in the next billing, either."

"Three months of the year we bring in enough revenues," Braunius said. "Two-thirds of the users are seasonal. We could look into a summer rate; there are ways you could do it, you just have to look into it."

     

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