Village officials release end-of-year data
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
The Village of Cold Spring left fiscal 2011-12 with more money than anticipated, with an approximate $125,000 general fund surplus, exceeding expectations by $20,000, according to data released Tuesday (July 31) at the Village Board workshop.
According to Mayor Seth Gallagher, village officials rolled $65,000 of the surplus into coffers for the current, 2012-13 budget year, which began June 1; put another $10,000 into a capital fund for such Main Street projects as sidewalk improvements, crosswalks, storm water work, handicapped accessibility, and repaving side streets intersecting with Main Street; and applied $4,000 to the firefighter service award, a form of annuity or pension.
Moreover, according to the mayor, at the end of fiscal 2011-12, the general fund’s unassigned funds balance stood at about $190,000, exceeding state directives. “Cold Spring has an estimated annual recurring general fund budget of $1,800,000,” he explained. “The New York State Comptroller’s Office recommends maintaining a fund balance for emergency purposes of at least 10 percent,” which for Cold Spring “would be at least $180,000. Since we currently have a $190,000 fund balance, we have met our goal with some to spare.”
He termed it “worth noting that this is the first year in over seven years that the village has achieved this level of fiscal security.” He said that an “adequate fund balance acts as an emergency set-aside for use when unforeseen needs confront the village. Having a healthy fund balance also allows the village to keep any property tax increases to the bare minimum.”
Year-end budget sheets show that as of May 31, the village took in $1,966,992 in actual revenue and spent $1,921,314, leaving a positive balance of $45,677. The village also had $80,000 that had been appropriated for the general fund but not used. That amount, when added to the revenue-minus-expenses balance, accounts for the approximately $125,000 surplus.
The financial review occurred before the board engaged in a lengthy discussion with developer Paul Guillaro over a new concept for the Butterfield Hospital property.
Budget affairs arose again at the close of the workshop, when the board reached an agenda item involving Trustee Charles “Chuck” Hustis’ views on public meetings, an ethics board and related issues, addressed in a memo and a series of follow-up messages on Monday in which he called for eliminating Cold Spring as an entity and merging it with the Town of Philipstown. [See Trustee Calls for Dissolving Village Government.]
“My sole purpose is to dissolve the village government and merge with the Town,” Hustis wrote in an email to Mayor Seth Gallagher and fellow board members, as well as Clerk Mary Saari and Village Attorney Stephen Gaba after disseminating his memo. “We don’t need another taxing level of government here. The revolution has star[t]ed in the village and will continue until the village is dissolved.”
He reiterated his opinion in a second email that used capital letters and multiple exclamation points for emphasis: “DISSOLVE THE VILLAGE GOVERNMENT COMPLETELY!!!! Get rid of the unnecessary taxing level of government in this community. We are a fiscal rip off. This government serves only those for whom they can control in the end. There is no independence in Cold Spring, only a dictatorship.” In his memo, he leveled other allegations, including claims of a “movement” afoot to stifle free speech.
“I was sort of put off by it and the accusations in it” and the description of the village as a financial “rip-off,” Gallagher said Tuesday evening, pointing toward the budget documents that show a healthy balance.
Hustis declined to discuss the matter, although previously he had sought time at the meeting to do so. “It’s fighting a lost cause,” he said. However, he proposed that the board consider allowing a brief public comment period, perhaps two or three minutes, at the end of weekly workshop, for audience remarks, “even though it’s not required.” As for the content of his memo and other correspondence, he said, “It was put out there. I didn’t want to respond to it tonight.”
“Is it still your policy to dissolve village government?” Gallagher asked.
Hustis declined to answer and the meeting adjourned.