City’s 2013/2014 financial figures updated by NY State

The city’s financial figures for the fiscal year spanning 2013 and 2014, including the balances for the various funds, were recently updated on the New York State comptroller’s website. However, Controller Matt Agresta said Monday he has not received official notice from the state that the city’s 2013-2014 Annual Update Document(AUD) has been accepted, but believes the appearance of the figures online indicate that it has.

“I have to assume that it was finalized, although I never got a confirmation from the state, but again, the figures are out there so it must be all set,” said Agresta.

According to the state comptroller’s website, the city’s general fund balance at the end of 2014 was $2,450,614. The figure is significantly higher than 2013’s ending fund balance of $612,305.

According to Agresta, there were two factors that contributed to the increase in the fund balance. The first was the dissolution of the previous health insurance trust fund which was part of a now defunct health insurance program that was shared by Montgomery County and the city. Dissolution of the fund during the 2014 fiscal year added approximately $600,000 to the fund balance.

The second factor was a transfer of approximately $800,000 in liabilities for compensated absences for employees from the general fund to the long term debt fund.

Agresta described what the compensated absences figure meant by saying, “Basically, it’s a total – if the city of Amsterdam [hypothetically] went belly-up, closed their doors tomorrow, what would the employees be entitled to for sick time, personal time, things that they’ve accrued.”

He said that the total compensated absences liability amount was previously kept in each individual fund (the general fund, sewer fund, water fund, etc). Agresta said that going forward, only the amount needed to cover retirements in any given year would be budgeted for in each fund.

The general fund balance represents the difference between the city’s general fund assets and liabilities, and is one indicator of the city’s financial health. In previous years, common council members repeatedly expressed concern over not knowing the exact fund balance during their budget planning sessions.

“They wouldn’t place so much emphasis on it if it didn’t matter,” said Agresta.

Agresta has previously declined to officially quote the city’s fund balance for any given year until the AUD for that year has been accepted by the state. Delays with reconciling the city’s financial records, resulting in part from instability in the controller’s office before Agresta was first elected in 2014, and problems with the transition to a new accounting system in 2011, have resulted in the city falling behind with its required yearly reporting to the state.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.