By Joshua Maloni
As the Village of Lewiston Board of Trustees heads into budget season, it does so with some good news.
Prior to Tuesday’s monthly meeting, the municipality was presented a financial report from its new certified public accounting firm, EFPR Group. Partner Thomas E. Smith, CPA, said, “I think we’re in a good position moving forward.”
He provided a summary for the 2022 fiscal year (as of May 31), which noted the following:
•Revenues were expected to be $2,766,529, while expenses were pegged at $3,278,654 – meaning $512,125 in fund balance would’ve been required to balance the budget. Instead, the village took in $3,212,930, while spending just $3,106,335.
As a result, the general fund’s total fund balance, as reflected in the fund financial statements, increased by $106,595 – bringing the total fund balance to $2,049,854.
Notably, nonproperty tax items came in $261,106 higher than expected.
Of the total fund balance, the general fund’s unassigned fund balance is $1,256,090, which represents approximately 40.4% of the 2022 general fund expenditures.
Not included in the report was the unexpected mold remediation, which took place in September and cost $120,000. That fee was paid from the fund balance.
•The water and sewer funds ended 2022 with an increase in fund balance of $39,301 and $109,787, respectively, due to reduced expenditures. The resulting total fund balances are $34,651 and $288,997. The water line should be in even better position as of May 31, 2023, as the rate has gone up twice since the 2022 budget was adopted.
•The capital projects fund ended 2022 with an increase in fund balance of $994,129 due to proceeds received from the issuance of serial bonds.
“Every fund is in a healthy position,” Smith said.
He added, “If you compare your assets to liabilities, you’re in a very good position; as well as your fund balance compared to expenses. At the fund level, where you budget and really care about the operations – very, very healthy position for the village at year end.”
Deputy Mayor Vic Eydt asked where the Village of Lewiston stands in comparison to similar municipalities.
“You’re in very good shape,” Smith said.
“That’s what we like to hear,” Mayor Anne Welch said.
The report stated, “The Village's funds are in good financial position with positive fund balances and adequate reserves. The 2023 financial outlook has challenges with continuing efforts to control costs and expanding economic development in the Village and property values increasing. The 2023 budget is structurally balanced and adequately addresses the rising costs of personnel costs and employee benefits such as health insurance and retirement plan. The adopted 2023 budget will raise $6,731 more in real property taxes than 2022. Total fund appropriations for 2023 are $4,489,885 which is $401,081 higher than the original 2022 budget.”
Trustees approved the almost $4.5 million budget last spring, opting to keep the tax rate at $7.76 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. If gains and losses were to go as projected, then $623,681 from the appropriated fund balance would be required to square the books.
Of course, the trend for the past decade has been an expected loss and an actual gain – as was the case in the EFPR Group report.
Elected leaders will decide on next year’s budget – and the tax rate – in coming weeks. The fiscal year begins June 1.