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Posted: 01/30/13

Village's audit shows fall
in wastewater transfers

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      As the economy slowly recovers, the Village of Romeo is building its finances back up by making wastewater independent of general fund dollars.
       The village received an unqualified or "clean" opinion on its 2011-12 audit, showing a decrease in revenue and a rise in expenses, but an overall increase to fund balance.
       During an annual audit report held Jan. 14, Paul Bailey of Stewart, Beauvais and Whipple noted a significant portion of the village's revenue, $392,598, was transferred to water and sewer funds to pay for debt retirement.
       He said, however, that this is less than the 2011 transfer of $620,852.
       "You're slowly trying to wean yourself off of it a little bit," he said.
       The audit shows the village's water fund in the black at $104,741, but its wastewater system was in the red at $260,678, leaving a negative balance of $155,937.
       "That's why we had to work with your sewer rates two or three months ago," he said.
       The board voted 5-0 in September to raise sewer rates by $3 per month (8.5 percent) to handle the costs of its sewer debt while eliminating the need to subsidize the sewer fund with the general fund.
       The village's general fund was reported at $880,755, about $18,000 above the 2011 amount. The 2012 liabilities of $291,430 left a fund balance of $589,325, which is about $25,000 higher than the 2011 balance.
       Of the fund balance, $251,389 is unassigned funds. Bailey said the recommended percentage for a municipality's use of fund balance for expenditures is 15 percent, but calculated the village's at 9 percent.
       "You have been bringing that up in the past couple of years," he said.
       Revenue for the village totaled $2.84 million in 2012. Of it, 82 percent was made up of tax revenue, and another 12 percent from federal and state sources.
       Last year's revenue was $2.90 million, with 83 percent made up from tax revenue.
       Expenditures came in at $2.44 million. The largest expense was public safety at 50 percent, which includes police and fire services. The next biggest expense was general government at 17 percent.
       In 2011, expenses were $2.34 million, with public safety making up 47 percent and operating transfers taking up 21 percent.
       In other expenses, the village spent $81,648 on major streets, $192,144 on local streets and $75,854 on municipal streets.
       Along with the audit, Bailey had recommendations for the village to better maintain its finances. For instance, he suggested examining a fund created based on a request from the Brownfield Re-development Authority. He said the account hasn't been touched since the village has collected money for it.
       "We don't know what it's for," Bailey said. "You aren't supposed to capture money for no reason."
       Village Treasurer Mindy Rossell said the fund is meant for reimbursing costs associated with someone improving the property in the Brownfield district.
       Bailey also suggested having the Department of Public Works track what time is spent on major streets versus local streets as well as ensuring that checks have two authorized signatures.


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