Saratoga County

Romano defends Ballston Spa finances

The Village Board did not adopt realistic budgets or adequately track the village’s spending from 20

The Village Board did not adopt realistic budgets or adequately track the village’s spending from 2009 to 2011, according to a new audit from state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Because unpaid taxes and unpaid water and sewer bills weren’t properly accounted for, the village’s fund balance was overstated by $135,000 in 2010 and $133,000 in 2011, the auditors found.

Mayor John P. Romano said procedural changes will be made because of the audit, but said the village finances are better than portrayed in the audit. Even with the adjustments made by the comptroller, the village had a fund balance of $400,000 in 2010 and $605,000 in 2011.

“The village has adequate reserves, has always had adequate cash, and is running a surplus,” he said.

The audit notes that the financial condition of the village general fund has improved since the last state audit in 2006, which found village financial records were “incomplete and inaccurate.”

After that critical audit, the village made the village treasurer a full-time position to enhance bookkeeping. But the new audit says there are still issues with overspending of specific accounts.

Romano said the Village Board will start making formal transfers between accounts to balance overspent and underspent accounts, as recommended by the audit.

The auditors also found the sewer fund revenue has been overestimated in the last two years, because revenue estimates weren’t adjusted to reflect the loss of income when one of its largest customers, the Angelica Health Care laundry, moved away in 2010.

“The board should develop a plan to address the deficit and poor financial condition of the sewer fund,” the auditors stated.

But Romano said the village has another large sewer bill that went unpaid in 2009-2010, and also had a large sewer main repair in 2009 that cost an unexpected $109,000 — and those factors led to the deficit, which was covered with borrowing from the general fund.

“It was a paper deficit. There was always enough cash,” he said.

In a formal response included in the audit, village officials also noted that the sewer fund deficit, which the comptroller said topped out at $260,000, has since been eliminated.

The village budget currently totals about $3.77 million.

DiNapoli’s office also released a new audit of the town of Waterford on Wednesday.

In their only criticism, the auditors said the Waterford Town Board has not adopted or developed a written multiyear financial plan for the town.

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