Board sees mixed results from presentation
By David Yarger
On Monday night, before the Town of Wheatfield's regular Town Board meeting, the board heard from Carl Widmer of Drescher & Malecki, who presented the results of the 2017 audit.
The audit broke down spending from the water, sewer, highway and general funds during 2017, as well as total fund balance in the general fund.
First, Widmer reviewed the total revenues and expenditures from the water fund. For water, the revenues came in above the expenditures, which increased the fund balance by $63,000. There was a drop-off in both revenues and expenditures, but Widmer said that's a direct correlation to water usage in the town, because the summer of 2017 "wasn't as bad," as the summer of 2016. The activity resulted in an end fund balance of $241,000, which is up from $178,000 last year. The water fund was the only fund to see an increase in fund balance.
"Water fund had favorable results this year," Widmer said.
For the sewer fund, expenditures topped revenues by $56,000, resulting in a decrease in fund balance.
On the loss, Widmer said, "Most of this can be attributed to departmental revenues. Like I said, this past summer wasn't as harsh as the prior year, so you saw a decrease in the money coming in as a result of that."
The ending fund balance for the sewer fund was $237,000.
For the highway fun, expenditures exceeded revenues, resulting in a fund balance decrease of $60,000. Compared the 2016 total fund balance for the highway fund, the total decrease from $850,000 to $788,000.
Widmer said, "With how much money is left, you want to pay attention that you're not appropriating or speaking for too much of the fund balance in your budget when total fund balance levels are starting to decrease. If you continue to appropriate fund balance at this same level each year, it could create a deficit without paying attention to new revenue opportunities or potentially property tax to balance it."
The general fund was evaluated last and Widmer said the fund has experienced decreases in the last four years. In 2017, the fund balance decreased $142,000.
Revenues increased $220,000 from 2016, but expenditures also increased.
In all, the total fund balance is down from $1.4 million in 2016 to $1.3 million in 2017.
Widmer said, "These graphs are sort of telling the story in the general fund in particular, that for the most recent five years we're seeing a decrease in fund balance. Over the last four years it's decreased nearly a $1 million."
In a graph, the 2013 fund balance was listed around $2.2 million and for 2017 it decreased to $1.3 million.
"If we continue to operate at this trend, it would create a fund balance deficit," Widmer said. "There's costs that are uncontrollable. The costs that you are able to control, you've done a good job. Things like health insurance and litigation costs, those are tougher to control and those are challenges that the town's facing."
The unassigned fund balance in 2017 is down 8.1 percent from 17.1 percent ($708,834) in 2016 to 9 percent ($384,669) in 2017. In 2013, the unassigned fund balance was at 43.7 percent ($1,610,140).
Widmer said the Government Finance Association offers a recommendation for minimum levels of unassigned fund balance of 16.7 percent, leaving the town below the recommended percentage.
To close, Widmer said, "I think cutting costs you guys have done a good job - it's difficult to hold on there anymore and it's taking a look at how can we make up for it on the money coming in. ... What's possible out there or is there the option to implement a property tax to sort of balance the budget to get it there.
"Our opinion, we plan to move forward with an unmodified opinion - that's the term that gets put on it - that's a clean opinion, that's what you want."