Ann Gallelli: Capitalizing on the Capital Budget

To the Editor,ann2016
Last Monday, the Village Board adopted budgets for the Fiscal Year 2017/2018 General, Water and Sewer Funds. During the past month, the Board reviewed the proposed budget submitted by Manager King. This budget was the result of very hard work by our staff and their commitment to provide the best services possible while keeping within the NYS Tax Levy Cap. They did a very good job and the Board made very few changes, all of which were minor.
Unlike in most recent years, the Board decided to postpone adopting the Capital budget at this time. There remains uncertainty about what major financial commitments are in the near future and how to accommodate them in the long-term capital plan. This budget does not affect property taxes set for Fiscal 2017/2018.
The original proposed Capital Fund budget included spending $730,000 from the Village’s Fund Balance for some cars, a truck ($265,000) and roof repairs at DPW ($125,000) and Washington Engine Company ($165,000). These are not unexpected or emergency expenses. These items are best paid for by Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs) – low interest, 5 year notes. I disagreed with this plan. It makes no sense to spend our Fund Balance down for items like these.
In the coming year or two, the Village will likely be faced with some major expenditure for which bonding will be necessary. It makes far more sense to use this Fund Balance money to reduce long-term borrowing for future projects. We know the cost of bonding is on its way up with interest rates rising already. By having this $730,000 available at that time, the cost of future borrowing could be reduced – potentially by hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of the bond.
For this reason, I was happy that, at the Manager’s suggestion, we take more time to assess our likely capital expenditures before adopting the Capital Budget.

Ann Gallelli

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