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Wheatfield whittles down deficit

by jmaloni
Thu, Aug 11th 2011 09:30 am
Dennis A. Peterson hands Town Board members an enlarged check for $32,987.44 representing the amount the town received as a settlement from Time Warner Cable. The board presented Peterson with a proclamation naming him the 2011 Citizen of the Year for bringing the misdirection of cable franchise fees to its attention.
Dennis A. Peterson hands Town Board members an enlarged check for $32,987.44 representing the amount the town received as a settlement from Time Warner Cable. The board presented Peterson with a proclamation naming him the 2011 Citizen of the Year for bringing the misdirection of cable franchise fees to its attention.

by Susan Mikula Campbell

Independent auditor Thomas Malecki delivered good news to the Wheatfield Town Board on Monday: The town's audit for 2010 showed significant improvement in the town's financial situation.

Last summer, the 2009 report caused officials to cringe as Malecki said that, when compared with about 15 other municipalities in Niagara and Erie counties that he audits, Wheatfield's fund balance deficit was the worst. For four or five years under the previous administration, Wheatfield's spending was consistently up, while revenues either stayed the same or decreased, he said.

Malecki, of Drescher & Malecki LLP, was much happier this year as he complimented the town's new budget director, Ed Mongold, on work done to bring the deficit down and put better financial controls in place.

Supervisor Bob Cliffe is "extremely pleased" that the deficit, which was about $663,000 when he first took office in January 2010, is now down to about $94,000.

"First and foremost, the audit shows that Ed Mongold and the numbers he gives us are accurate and complete," Cliffe said. "I am looking forward to the 2011 audit next year when we'll be back on solid footing, well in the black, and looking forward to the future."

Cliffe and the Town Board have instituted a number of not always popular cuts in programs and services, sold some town-owned property and, with Mongold's help, added new controls on how money is spent. Mongold provides the board thorough and frequent reports on spending. Plus, sales tax revenues are up for Wheatfield.

In other matters:

•The board presented a proclamation to Dennis A. Peterson, a resident of Townline Road, naming him the town's 2011 Citizen of the Year for his involvement and assistance in the recovery of a $32,987.44 refund from Time Warner Cable.

Councilman Larry Helwig said he received an email from Peterson several years ago, asking why his cable bill listed his franchise fee going to Pendleton. Helwig began to investigate and found that fees for more than 200 Wheatfield homes were going to other municipalities. The town was able to negotiate a settlement with Time Warner for $32,987.44, although the amount misdirected by the cable company was probably closer to $50,000, Helwig said.

•Tim Walck, town engineer, reported that bids were opened for the roof project at the town's Water/Sewer Department. Low bidder, approved by the board, was Patrick Construction, with a bid of $136,400 for roof replacement, two new doors, a new air conditioning unit and chimney repair. Work is expected to be completed in November.

•The next Town Board meeting will be on Monday, Aug. 22. The meeting will begin at 7:15 p.m. with a public hearing on a 14-lot subdivision on Nash Road to be known as Aidan Estates.

The board approved the State Environmental Quality Review Act report indicating the subdivision will not adversely affect the natural resources of the state or the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Walck said the developer is avoiding nearby wetlands and the subdivision will have no adverse effect on the flood plain.

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