The first thing that should come to mind when you look at the year-end transfers is the number of accounts that have been overdrawn in 2007. Just about the same number of accounts were overdrawn in 2006; the first year of this administration.
The need to cover overdrawn accounts to this magnitude at the end of each year signifies one of two things. Either the Town of New Hartford budgeting process is flawed or there is little to no control over how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
Getting to the actual transfers...we are going to assume that Mr. Frank Basile, CPA, whose firm is being retained by the Town of New Hartford to help with the budget and other related matters, is probably aware of these 2007 transfers...but, we may be wrong!
Let us give our readers a little history as to how the town of New Hartford budget is set-up. The town budget consists of General Whole-Town, General Whole-town Minus NYM, General Part-Town, Highway Whole-Town, Highway Part-Town, water, fire and several other Special Districts.
We have talked about it before, but to recap, the difference between General Whole-Town and General Whole-town Minus NYM is the tax base. All residents in the Town of New Hartford, including people living in the Villages, are taxed for General Whole-town expenses. Only those people living outside of the Village of NYM are taxed for General Whole-town Minus NYM expenses...these monies are for the operation and maintenance of the New Hartford Police Department. Since the Village of NYM has their own Police Department, Village of NYM residents cannot be taxed for the expenses of the New Hartford Police Department. However, the exception appears to be "...the exemption in section 150(1) does not apply to capital expenses, such as for the acquisition of land or the construction of a building, to support the town police department. See Opinion 2003-6 from the NYS Comptroller's Office.
The General Whole-town Minus NYM consists of budget lines under three (3) areas --Police, Traffic Control and Control of Animals. Residents in the Village of New York Mills who reside in the Town of New Hartford cannot be taxed for any of these budgeted expenses.
Among the five (5) pages of 2007 year-end budget transfers, there are several questionable year-end budget transfers. Look at the spreadsheet. All of the budget lines in red are funded by tax dollars of ALL town residents including Village of NYM residents...General Whole-town. All of the budget lines in black are funded ONLY by residents outside of the Village of NYM tax dollars...General Whole-town Minus NYM.
Using left-over monies in General Whole-town budget lines to offset overdrafts in General Whole-town Minus NYM accounts is extremely questionable, if not illegal. How can you use the tax dollars of one tax base to offset the over-expenditures of another tax base? Doesn't it equate to taxing residents in the Village of New York Mills "behind their backs" for a service they don't get?
Town Attorney Green...Mr. Frank Basile, CPA...your opinion please!
Stay Tuned...we're not done yet!