Such was the case when Councilman Backman questioned him regarding the money owed to the Consolidated Sewer Fund.
According to the 2010 NYS Comptroller's audit, the Consolidated Sewer Fund is owed about $1.5 million because excess money in the sewer fund has been used to cover shortfalls in other funds.
From the 2010 NYS Comptroller's Audit Report [click here for the full Comptroller's report on the Sewer Fund]:
OFFICE OF THE NEW YORK STATE COMPTROLLERBasically, sewer users have been bankrolling unbudgeted expenditures in other funds. And that money has not been paid back yet.
Consolidated Sewer District
Although the consolidated sewer district has an excessive fund balance, the reported cash in this fund was only about $224,000 at the end of 2009. This is due to the consolidated sewer district loaning its cash to other funds – reporting a net receivable due from other funds amounting to about $1.5 million at the end of 2009. A large portion of this relates to loans provided to the other funds, including the police fund which does not currently have the ability to immediately repay the sewer district. If Town officials take corrective action by reducing the excessive fund balance in the consolidated sewer district without also addressing the weak financial position of the police fund, the Board may have to resort to issuing short term borrowing, such as revenue anticipation notes, in order to meet its cash flow needs.
By Town Law, the town has to prepare an assessment roll for each Special District [Consolidated Sewer, Lighting, Fire, Water, and Drainage Districts] that is to be made available at a Public Hearing so that anyone may view the information and question the town board if they disagree with the district charges. The Public Hearing for the 2012 budget is set for November 9, 2011.
We FOILed a copy of the assessment roll for the Consolidated Sewer District that is supposed to be filed in the Town Clerk's Office...it did not comply with Town Law in that several bits of information were missing...such as the name and address of the sewer user and the amount of sewer tax that each parcel will be required to pay on their 2012 Town Tax bill; information that is required according to a January 19, 2006 memo from ORPS.
As an aside, in the past we have pointed out several parcels in the Consolidated Sewer District that have never paid sewer tax on their Town Tax bill because their parcel was never properly tagged in the assessment database.
Also, according to the 2010 NYS Comptroller's Audit of New Hartford:
The Board’s failure to adopt budgets with realistic estimates for expenditures has caused the Town to levy more real property taxes than needed and to accumulate the excess fund balance.The Town has actually been taxing sewer users more than they planned to expend each year. Town Law states that "the town board shall annually prepare detailed estimates in writing of the anticipated revenues and expenditures for such district and special improvement for the purpose of determining the amount of money required to meet the expense of maintaining the improvement for the fiscal year commencing on the first of January next succeeding". Town law only allows for a contingency of 10% over the expenses necessary to maintain the system. The town is not supposed to "sit" on district monies and use them as a "slush" fund.
On October 12, 2011, we FOILed the 2012 budget worksheets for the Consolidated Sewer District so that we could see what expenses are budgeted for next year...as of today, we have yet to receive the information.
Here is the discussion on the Consolidated Sewer District, "etc. etc.":