Local Matters

Community Sponsors

September 25, 2009 - 2:49pm

Molino: City back in the black

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

fundbalance_city_2009.gif

The City of Batavia is out of the red on its operational ledger.

For fiscal year 2009, Batavia has a fund balance of $32,950, City Manager Jason Molino told reporters today. 

Even though the city has been spending less than it takes in starting in 2007, this marks the first time in years that the city is not carrying a deficit on its balance sheet.

"We're not borrowing to pay for operations," Molino said. "We don't have cash flow problems."

In 2006, the deficit on the fund balance was a deep dark red -- $2.2 million.

"Most municipalities in this situation have gone to the state legislature to bond out their debt and that's a lengthy process," Molino said. "What you had happen here is you had a council committed to trying to right the ship and make the right decisions."

Among the right decisions, Molino said, was committing to conservative revenue budgets. The city has ensured expected revenue aligns realistically to numbers based on historical trends.

"The problem in prior years, and I'm talking three years back, was aggressive revenue budgeting," said Molino. "As a result, actual revenues did not meet budgeted revenues. As you can see from '05 and '06, your actual revenue was below your budgeted revenue."

The fund balance is for operational expenses and excluding debt for buildings and similar expenses.

For 2009, city revenue was $14.7 million and expenditures were $13 million. That $1.7 million swing helped the city generate a fund balance (meaning money in the bank rather than paying debt on operational expenses) for the first time since at least 2005.

On the expense side, Molino said the city has been able to hold the line on spending because department heads have done better at cutting things such as utility costs. At the wastewater treatment plant, for example, electricity usage has gone down by several hundred-thousand dollars. He also mentioned consolidated dispatch as a cost savings.

"It's identifying issues where expenses can be cut and that's really been a focus of the change in operations," Molino said.

The city isn't completely free of financial worries. It has not yet built up sufficient reserves to deal with unexpected expenses or any dip in revenue.

"To be financially healthy, you want your undesignated fund balance to be about 10 percent of your operations budget," Molino said.

He said the city's fund balance should be $1.3 million to $1.4 million, which is a pretty big number compared to the $32,000 the city just achieved.

Even so, Molino acknowledges that getting city finances to this point, is a satisfying accomplishment, but he credits both the Batavia City Council and city staff:

"It's interesting because when we dealt with it three years ago, it's one of those things that's out a ways and it takes time to get there and to look at the progress from year one to year two to year three. It's kind of interesting to know that when the council...adopted the idea that we don't want to go to the state to bond out our debt, we want to make the right changes that maintain levels of services, (we had to figure out) 'how do we get there?' We set that plan out. It's really a tribute the council making the difficult decisions at the time and a tribute to the staff that they made the tough changes."

The next hard task is mapping out the future.

"The damage control part of it is over now and now it's the planning part," Molino said. "Planning today for tomorrow is really the city's top priority."

Looking ahead, he said the city will need to focus on economic development, future union negotiations, upcoming retirement costs, reserve funding and post-employment health care costs for retirees (which could top $9 million).

expense_revenue_city_2009.gif

Jason Molino discusses city finances with press:

City of Batavia Management Report, March 31, 2009 (PDF)

Mark Potwora
Mark Potwora's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 weeks 1 day ago
Joined: May 14 2008 - 6:42pm
The way i read the chart is that 2005 the city collected 12.5 million dollars and 4 years later the city take in 14.5 million dollars..sounds to me all they did was raises 2 million more dollars worth of taxes..It only make sense that the city should be in the black..your ex of 50,000 debt that you paid of was only because your income went up....so the city has a press conference to let us all know we pay more taxes then we did 4 years ago...Big deal... On the spending side all they did was lower spending by 600,000 dollars in four years..doesn't look like they done much on the spending side..
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
Mark, Your math is flawed. The city budget is larger because yes we needed to cover a huge deficit with tax increases but, it is also higher because of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money that we worked for in recent years that was never done in the past. Those budget lines raise the revenues and expenditures equally. Making it look like we have a larger budget. Dispatch alone was $300,000. Chips funding and road projects all raise both lines. Can you show me another government entity that dropped expenses over a four year span and then on top of that paid down a huge deficit in two years? Notice over the last two years how our arrows are just about flat and running side by side?
Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 hour 22 min ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
Also note, my initial post was meant to get the main headline out quickly. I'm going through all of the material and re-listening to the audio now and adding details and clarifying as I go. I'll probably be updating the post over the next hour or so.
Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 hour 22 min ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
OK, I think I'm done. At least, I've got to stop. Gotta go cover football.
Mary E DelPlato
Mary E DelPlato's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: Jul 29 2008 - 4:50pm
Can I make charts and get paid 85,000 dollars a year for it?lmao Too bad struggling homeowners arent in the black.
Mark Potwora
Mark Potwora's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 weeks 1 day ago
Joined: May 14 2008 - 6:42pm
Charlie how is my math flawed...Grant money is tax money..That's how the city did what they did was by takeing in more tax dollars..Grant money ,property tax its all tax money..Over 2 million in 4 years is what it is..All i'm saying is big deal..That how the city erased the debt..I,m sure if my income goes up like that in 4 years i should be able to wipe my debt out also...Does that mean Jason should get anthor raise...Lets not forget all the water rate increases..
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
Mark, by your logic next year’s budget revenues and expenses will be roughly $2.4 Million less, this because the ambulance service was removed this year. But, the net effect next year won’t be $2.4 Million in savings for the year. It’s a paper transaction. All I'm saying is that you’re over simplifying things. As for grant money, we argued that point to death. Your state and federal taxes pay for things. To not work for our share would be a sure sign of incompetence. Unless of course, you’re a gluten for punishment and would like to pay for road repair in both your State and local taxes. All I’m saying is that in your haste to find something wrong you didn’t bother to find something good. Let’s play this game again. So Mark, what would you cut from our budget? Who would you lay off and what service don’t you want….. Garbage pickup? Police protection? Snow plowing? How about let’s go round and round with the fire department again…. Let’s Not..
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
Water is a different story and a separate self sufficient fund. The water agreement was for ten years with built in yearly increases. Those increase where locked in when the agreement was signed. The problem was Council didn’t raise the rate for 7 years, even though the 3% annual cost increase was locked it. Our water rate is going to go up 3% a year. If the new guys don’t raise the rate next year, we are being played for fools.
Karen Miconi
Karen Miconi's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 1 month ago
Joined: Feb 5 2009 - 4:48pm
(1) Was the public aware of this stipulation, and agreement, "10 years of increases", when the agreement was signed. (2) Was the public informed that their water bills would just keep rising.(3) Why did the city wait 7 years to raise it,and play catch-up? (4) Also water being a "separate self sufficient fund", is it turning a profit for the city?(5) If so, can we get some numbers? Are we the only ones having a hard time paying our water bill? It used to be managable. Everything just keeps going Up and Up and Up...O>:
Mark Potwora
Mark Potwora's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 weeks 1 day ago
Joined: May 14 2008 - 6:42pm
Charlie you can get rid of trash pick up...i'll pay for it on my own.I have one bag a trash a week..I see many others putting out more than the six bag limit..I don't want to subsidze those people...Also i'm just saying that i don't see what the big deal is..Its great that the city is paying off its debts.but lets not forget that its mostly done by higher taxes and grant tax money...thats all i'm saying ..anyone can raise taxes..Let's not try to sugar coat it that it was done by making big cuts in city government..thats all i'm saying..If anyone deserves credit its the taxpayer who has had to fork over more money to the city to erase this debt.....Thank us ...Not Mr. Milino who is doing the job he is paid to do..And don't dump the water money in the general fund..
Bea McManis
Bea McManis's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 8 months ago
Joined: May 4 2009 - 9:20pm
I don't think the question is what would you cut. The question is what is the bare minimum you would keep? How much would you pay for trash pickup from a private concern? As far as grant money from state or federal. How much do you really think that raises your state or federal tax? That is pooled money that comes from your neighbors in other parts of the state, or from all the states if it is federal. Do you really think that your percentage for grant money is really that much? I understand you want all grant money ended. You don't want to subsidize a project for pharmaceutical R&D (for example) in Philadelphia and you don't want the citizens of Philadelphia to subsidize a project in Batavia. So, we end grants. Would that satisfy you, Mark? I honestly believe that if the budget report came out that we were totally out of debt, that we weren't using grant money, that no taxes would be raised - or even better - no taxes put on the backs of home owners, that you would find fault with it because it came from Mr. Molino and some on the city council. This is the half full/half empty thing. You, and others refuse to look at anything positive when it comes to local government. No matter what they do, or how it is done, it is always wrong. Run for city council, Mark. Become part of the process.
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
Karen, some of us fought the water deal on Council. (Rosemary, Kathy and I) The public did Not fight. Now when it's too late to do anything, I hear complaints about the yearly increases that come from it. Public apathy is the cause of your water rate increases. Mark, there is an election next month and I'm not running. You should direct those questions to someone who is.
Bea McManis
Bea McManis's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 8 months ago
Joined: May 4 2009 - 9:20pm
Posted by Karen Miconi on September 25, 2009 - 11:20pm Was the public aware of this stipulation, and agreement, "10 years of increases", when the agreement was signed. I think if you went to the library and checked the news at that time, you will see that it was discussed in the paper. Where were you when it was your opportunity to support the members of council that were against this deal? YOU are the public. Charlie is right, public apathy and not supporting (sorry to beat a dead horse) those who are working in YOUR favor by your vote are the problems.
Karen Miconi
Karen Miconi's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 1 month ago
Joined: Feb 5 2009 - 4:48pm
I just wanted an answer to my questions, which by the way I'm still not getting. Not everyone goes to the library, and buys the daily snooze. I was too busy working my butt off to pay my bills. Maybe Howard could do a poll and see how many citizens knew of this stipulation.(6) Where are the increases being applied, Rochester water authority? (7) "How" could the city wait 7 years to raise the water bill? Why? I think if the public knew about the 10 years of increases, they wouldnt have agreed to it. Maybe I'm wrong Again, but Im only human. PS Please dont mess with the garbage pick-up. Those guys need their jobs, and we need them. Whats next? Are we going to have Rochester coming to pick-up our garbage? How much will those new trucks and employees cost us? If its not broke, leave it alone. Why Is It Always About PROFIT
Charlie Mallow
Charlie Mallow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: Apr 28 2008 - 9:05pm
Karen, I’m sorry but, talking about the water deal is painful. The imbalances to the water fund was just a small part of the mess we were given. Eight years ago there was plenty of debate over the water deal. You would have had to be under a rock not to hear about it. The water deal was renegotiated two years ago before the new council took over. It was passed very quickly. Again, that was in the paper and radio over and over again. But, no one listened. it’s all water under the bridge now.
Karen Miconi
Karen Miconi's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 1 month ago
Joined: Feb 5 2009 - 4:48pm
Charlie, thanks for the responce. I see this is a soar spot for you, and I'm sure you fought very hard for the right deal. It should have never caused you pain. It says alot about who you were dealing with. Again thank you for your responce. Have a great day! Maybe John knows what went on.
Mary E DelPlato
Mary E DelPlato's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: Jul 29 2008 - 4:50pm
Karen what was funnier than all heck yet disturbing also is when they wanted to cut crossing guards out of the mix. Cut the lower payin jobs to save money????wow wish I was smokin what theyre smokin
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 22 hours ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Karen, The water deal was news for almost 9 months last time. You just did not pay attention. The reason you did not is all your own. Too bad you were to busy. But fact is you just didn't bother to stay informed. Most people were against it, but we were not allowed to vote on it. All of the people on Council that voted to sell us out were later voted out, like Chris Fix, or just did not run. The ones who voted against the deal (both times) are still on Council. They are Rose Mary Christian, Kathy Briggs and Charlie Mallow.
Karen Miconi
Karen Miconi's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 years 1 month ago
Joined: Feb 5 2009 - 4:48pm
John, is there anything we can do now, to change the water agreement? Oh and I remember the months of debating. I worked with Rosemary, and remember her frustration with the whole thing. You say, too bad I was to busy, and not paying attention. Maybe so, but there was nothing I could have done right? so whats the dif. Councils hands were tied too. Were they railroaded into agreeing on it? If so, Thats not right.
Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 2 days ago
Joined: May 2 2008 - 9:36am
Karen-Had you and others like you had gone to council meetings and wrote letters to the editor, council may have gotten the message. Most importantly though, voting is the key to making sure that people who listen to the public get elected. If you don't like the incumbents, vote for someone else or write yourself in. Complaining without doing anything is beyond the pale when it comes to uselessness.
Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 2 days ago
Joined: May 2 2008 - 9:36am
By the way, I was young then (not yet 18) and not particularly active in local politics and I remember the water deal.
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 22 hours ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Karen, There is nothing we can do right now, it is a legal contract. The thing to do is elect people who will plan now for the day this contract is up and not sign again.
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 22 hours ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Karen, While giving credit to people who tried to stop both the first and second water contract, I did not mention Bob Bialkowski. He was not on council then, but he was one of the first people who worked very hard to try and stop this both times. Also, as a point of information, the water deal locks us into a higher rate than people in Monroe Councty pay and it does not allow us to have anyone on the water authority board to look out for us either. Nice of them.
Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 hour 22 min ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
John, where is the water authority board based? Is it a public agency (are the meetings are records open)? I covered water when I was in California. It can be a surprisingly interesting beat (though, water is a much more complex issue in California than here, I imagine). I don't see much coverage of water in New York. It might be interesting to check out the water authority a little more.
John Roach
John Roach's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 22 hours ago
Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
Howard, The Monroe County Water Authority (MCWA) is the board and I believe they are in the City of Rochester, but the exact address I don’t have. The board is picked by the Monroe County government, they are not elected, but then very few boards are. The MCWA sets the water rates for Genesee County. The County then sets the rates for the City and the City for us. The MCWA usually sets its new rates in January, so you can get a heads up sometimes by following Rochester area news.

Post new comment

Log in or register to post comments

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 
 
 
 

Copyright © 2008-2019 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button