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Friday, September 11, 2009

Worry About the Deficit Next Year!

Perhaps a slip of the tongue or perhaps a dubious plan to engage in a fiscal sleight of hand with the town's current newly projected two year $149,000 deficit, but the Supervisor stated some 6 minutes and 24 seconds into this tape that "We are trying to get this year's budget done and then work on the 85 next year. I don't think we can do both this year." He's referring to two deficit numbers, $85,000 carried over from 2008 and this years projected $64,000 deficit. Together they account for the Comptroller's stated projected deficit of $149,000.

If you dissect the Supervisor's statement, he is indicating his intention not to address the $85,000 2008 deficit with cuts this year and his intention to attempt to deal with it in next year's budget. The move would not only be irresponsible but likely unlawful to deliberately run a deficit as part of a new Tentative Budget. That would still require the town to cut some $64,000 in planed spending this year, a task requiring more layoffs. But it would leave unaddressed in 2009, the 2008 deficit we are carrying of $85,000.

Councilman Spain appeared caught off guard by his comments and asked about the requirement of State Law to produce a balanced budget. But it appears the Supervisor soft peddled the meaning behind his "then work on the 85 next year" statement, giving Spain the false impression he has misunderstood Evers statement.

So the revelation means that Evers has no intention of trying to cut spending sufficiently this year to wipe out the cumulative deficit, that all he intends to try and do is wipe out this years portion of the two year cumulative deficit. That would force the town board to make $85,000 in additional cuts or tax increases in next year's budget in addition to reducing spending equivalent to the removal of the reoccurring structural deficit which reflects this year's deficit.

Translated, to erase a deficit of this magnitude without a tax hike, one has to cut twice as much. Once for the current year and the same amount for next year if the revenue projections in a soft economy remain the same. What Evers is proposing is even worse for next year because by failing to address the 2008 deficit now in this years finances, it has to be added to next year's tax increases or spending cuts. That's right Councilman Desso, by failing to wipe out the $85,000 deficit from 2008 now, you'll have a hell of a time trying to wipe it out next year without massive tax increases.

The Highway Department report issued last evening is a different story, expecting no increase in taxes in the highway fund for next year. That might cause Board members to play games with the budget, cutting the Highway Fund to offset an inevitable increase in the General Fund, something Highway Superintendent Mark Premo will fight vigorously. This board, however will be held accountable for the fund it is responsible for managing, the General Fund.

It is obviously better to deal with the cuts now than put them off until next year and it is also a potential violation of General Finance Law to deliberately run a deficit and carry it into a new fiscal year. This is what the last GOP town board did when they deliberately failed to make a large payment due to the State Retirement System in 2005 while bragging about a surplus during their failed election campaign. Now Evers is attempting to pull of another Houdini trick with town finances which will only make things far worse in 2010.

So Mr. Spain, you heard right the first time and your questions about State Law requiring a balance budget were pertinent to what you heard the Supervisor say about not dealing with the 2008 deficit now, this year. In the end though, it is the town board, not the supervisor, which has the power to make the cuts. What say you Mr. Desso? And what say your brave running mates Mr. Evers, candidates Hoffman and Bott. We have a term for it, incompetent and irresponsible management. Better call that Special Meeting sooner rather than later and be prepared to have a list of spending cuts in the budget resolution that will do the Supervisor's job for him.


Many, but not all of the foiled items scheduled for review of the town board were released to CB Smith just prior the meeting. The Supervisor acknowledged that to his knowledge, the IDA which he chairs has in no way complied with the NY State Public Authorities Act which requires adoption of a code of ethics by such agencies and a training course for its appointed members.

But, the Town Clerk provided a document that keeps under wraps the overtime budgeted and expended in her office, the Building Department and Comptroller's Office for 2008 and 2009 to date. What was provided instead was a multipage report listing the overtime hours expended by every employee in the town, even in departments which were not sought by the foil. Nowehere in the report are dollars listed.

As a result, today we cannot report to you how much overtime was expended in these departments over the last two years or whether it was budgeted. Open government marches on!

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