Audit report reveals village in strong fiscal health

The Village of Stillwater is in strong fiscal health, according to an independent audit of village finances for the 2011-2012 budgeting year. That was the official opinion of the audit firm of Bollam, Sheedy, Torani & Co. (BST) of Albany.

“We’re giving you the highest level of assurance you can get from an independent CPA,” said BST’s William Freitag, CPA, who presented the audit report to the Board of Trustees at its December 18 meeting.

“In our professional opinion we feel your financial statements are fairly stated based on your accounting principles,” Freitag said. “Furthermore, during the course of our audit (conducted in the fall) we had no disagreement with your (financial) management, no disagreement with your accounting systems, and no disagreement in performing the audit. Your general fund had a very positive year as did all of your funds.”

The village’s income statement ending April 30, 2012 showed a surplus of $118,242 in the overall general fund — up about $10,000 from the previous year. Actual costs incurred by the village in 2011-2012 were about $135,000 less than what was budgeted for, the audit showed.

The most significant savings, Freitag said, were in the transportation category due last year’s mild winter and lower than expected energy costs.

General fund revenue sources during the 2011-2012 audit year were $607,465, an increase of about $25,000 over the previous fiscal year. Small increases in the property tax and state aid budget lines made up for that increase, Freitag said.

Water and Sewer Funds

The other areas examined by the auditors were the village’s water and sewer funds, which also had “very strong financial years,” Freitag said. The sewer fund generated about $80,000 in income, while the water fund ended the year with a $20,000 surplus, he said.

In the area of village debt, the village paid down about $160,000 in debt during the audit year spread across the general, water and sewer funds. That enabled the village to pay down $24,000 in interest expenses related to its borrowings.

When comparing the village’s overall assets versus its liabilities, the village also ended the 2012-2013 fiscal year with “strong” cash balances, the auditors reported. Those cash balances are important because they paint a picture of how far forward the village could continue to go paying its bills without having to collect more revenue.

That said, the village ended the 2012-2013 year with nine months of cash on hand in its general fund, seven months of cash on hand in its sewer fund, and six months of cash on hand in its water fund.

“This is very good,” Freitag said. “Your operating funds and your cash balances are strong.”

While local governments, by law, are not normally required to undergo annual independent audits, this was required for the 2011-2012 fiscal year because the village received and expended more than $500,000 in federal money due to its ongoing water and sewer project.

Village Trustees also heard the following reports/updates and/or took the following action at the December meeting:

  • The Village Board adopted a resolution setting the polling place and voting hours for the general village election on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Polls will be open noon to 9 p.m. at St. Peter’s Parish Center, 881 Hudson Ave., Stillwater.
  • Trustee Judy Wood-Shaw reported that the village-sponsored Senior Socialization Program, usually held 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the last Friday of each month at The Stillwater Area Community Center, is averaging about 25 attendees each time. She also reported that the village’s Comprehensive Planning Committee will be applying for grant money from the Global Foundries Foundation to purchase new equipment to upgrade the playground on Major Dickinson Avenue.
  • Trustee Ellen Vomacka reported that she was notified by the NYS Department of Transportation that the village would have to allocate additional funding to pay for a full time state inspector to be on site during the sidewalk construction project near Stillwater Central Schools. Due to the late start of the project in the fall, the Village Board also passed a resolution giving the contractor 20 additional days to complete the work from the date the project resumes in the spring.
  • The Department of Public Works finished its fall leaf pickup, installed water meters, prepared the village Christmas tree for the annual lighting, paved and repaired roads and serviced trucks to ready them for winter snow plowing. The Clinton Court sewer project was also completed but additional paving will have to be done on Russell Drive in the spring to formally complete that sewer work.
  • The Building Code Officer issued one building permit for a new porch with roof on Lansing Road, one certificate of compliance for a new deck on Hudson Avenue, and one sign permit for a new pizza business on Hudson Avenue. He also completed a building inspection on Colonial Road, and responded to two letters of complaint on Major Dickinson Avenue for fence and roof problems.
  • The Fire Department responded to eight alarms in November including two structure fires and four mutual aid calls. The department also conducted three drills during the month, and hung holiday wreathes in the village.
  • Mayor Martin asked for a moment of silence for the victims and families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootingin Newtown, Connecticut, and for all village residents who died during 2012. The mayor and Village Board also publically commended a group of residents who hung yellow ribbons throughout the village in memory of the Sandy Hook victims.