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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 17, 2011

$2M Berne budget has $200K error

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — The town might have to amend its $2 million budget after an error was pointed out to the acting supervisor Wednesday night by The Enterprise, which shows about $216,000 missing from the total that the town board approved last week.

“We may have to draft a resolution, because we have until the first of the year to amend the budget, ” acting Supervisor Peter Vance said Wednesday. “We’re meeting Saturday morning anyway, because we have to award a contract, so I will bring it up at that time.”

He added that it would be put on the agenda for next month’s regular town board meeting, to be held on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m.

The adopted 2012 budget lists the total for general fund appropriations as $888,314, up from $886,743 this year; highway fund appropriations total $1,333,750, up from $1,295,204 this year. This adds up to a $2,222,064 for 2012, but the document’s cover page lists a total budget of $2,006,164. The 2011 budget totaled roughly $2.15 million.

After being asked about the difference, Vance pondered the matter for hours before pointing out that undistributed expenditures for the highway fund, totaling $177,700, and debt service for the highway fund, totaling $38,200, are missing from the total on the budget’s cover page, resulting in $215,900 missing from the figure that the board voted on.

The board had agreed to a $596,114 tax levy for 2012; if the missing $215,900 were added to that levy, it would mean an $812,114 tax levy for 2012, and a roughly $40,000 levy increase. But, Vance’s 2012 budget used only $250,000 from the town’s unexpended fund balance, while the current year’s budget used $290,000. If the town were to take an additional $40,000 from the fund balance — using $290,000 in 2012 as it did this year — it would only have to add $176,000 to the tax levy, meaning that the levy for next year would be $772,114, roughly the same as it was this year.

“The thing that I’m proudest of in doing this budget,” Vance had said earlier, “other than basing it on expenditures, is that, for the first time in my memory, board members were actually given a report of our cash position…how much is in each account.”

Additionally, the debt service line in the general fund is decreasing by $41,743.67, due to the fact that the town has paid off the construction of its transfer station.

Vance, retired from the New York State Dormitory Authority as assistant director of Information Services, did not run for re-election to the town board this year; he was appointed supervisor after George Gebe resigned earlier this fall. (See related story.)

In government support, the supervisor’s contractual line shows a $10,000 increase, which will go towards the purchase of a new financial system for Town Hall.

“That’s mostly for the purchase of the software,” Vance said, “and may include hardware.”

Vance also said that the town will be meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency next Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 8:30 a.m., to discuss what kind of funding it will get to aid with repair costs that followed Tropical Storm Irene. Some of that funding, Vance said, will go towards repairs around the Kaehler Lane Bridge, which had just been reconstructed last year.

“We had major damage around it,” Vance said. “[The storm] washed the deck off it, and washed out around the bridge. So, we issued an emergency contract to the guys who rebuilt it, and they came in, and a bridge engineer came in, and they were able to make the emergency repairs we needed to bring it back to operation.”

He said a bid will be open today at 10 a.m. for the West Woodstock Bridge, “Which had been a bridge years ago,” Vance said. “Somebody put a box culvert in, and Irene did a number on that. So, we’re taking the box culvert out and building a bridge through there.”

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