At last week’s Lloyd Town Board meeting, Supervisor Paul Hansut commented on a story reported in the Southern Ulster Times concerning an audit that was recently completed by the NYS Office of the Comptroller on the town’s financial condition.
Hansut said the Town Board was criticized by the state in a published story, entitled, “State Audit Rips Lloyd’s Fund Balance.”
“A great headline of how the state is ripping the Town Board for their fund balance [but] when you read the story, I didn’t find much to it, that’s my opinion,” he said.
Hansut said starting in 2012 the board began compiling their budgets in a very conservative manner.
“A budget, in my opinion, is an estimation of what things are going to cost you in the following year and the revenues you’re going to be getting in, in the following year,” he said. “We overestimated some expenses and we underestimated some revenues. It’s awfully hard as a Town Board to sit and look into a crystal ball to figure out what the sales tax is going to be. Since 2014 we’ve done very good with the sales tax; we’ve been over, which brought the fund balance up. The mortgage tax is another one; you can never figure out what the mortgage tax is going to be.”
Hansut said the Audit covered from 2014 to the present.
“They went through our payroll, they went through our retirement and they went through every aspect of the finances of the Town of Lloyd and they came up with that we don’t have an un-expended fund balance policy, and we don’t. We’re going to do it now,” he said.
The board will be reviewing a state publication called “Developing An Effective Fund Balance Policy,” to ensure they are adhering to the state’s guidelines.
Hansut took issue with the audit’s finding that Lloyd, “is hording $4 million and doing all these things with all this money and we’ve overtaxed; We’ve never gone over the property tax cap, ever in seven and a half years. One year we raised taxes 0.56 and in that year we had some surplus. I think that’s pretty good guys and ladies.” Hansut said the $4 million has been whittled down since 2014 and used for various purposes and is not being horded as the audit claims. He also noted that each councilperson is given a Supervisor’s report on finances at the first meeting of the month for their review.
Hansut pointed out that the town does not have to borrow $305,650 for the upcoming infrastructure project around Town Hall or bond it that would cost an additional $80,000.
“I think that’s pretty good and I think we’ve done a great job as a board with the budget. We’ve not always agreed and we argue, but when it comes down to a point of surpluses over deficits, get me the surplus any day of the week.”
Hansut said Phase III of the Rail Trail West project required a 20% local share, estimated between $500,000 to $600,000. The town did not have to borrow this amount, “because we ran a fiscally responsible budget and we had un-expended fund balance; I am not apologizing to anyone for that. We did not raise taxes 15% when our expenses were at 2% to horde 13%. That didn’t happen. It was 2% and we had money left over every single year and I think we did a very, very good job with that.”
Hansut said New York State likes to borrow money, saying this provides transparency for taxpayers.
“It may be transparent but it’s not fiscally prudent,” he said.
Hansut said the state had to find something wrong in the town but in light of the state’s current financial picture, he said Lloyd is in pretty good shape.