General fund improves, four other funds decline

The City of Amsterdam’s general fund deficit improved over the 2018-2019 fiscal year by about $2.5 million over the previous year according to preliminary figures released by Controller Matt Agresta at Tuesday’s council meeting. Also, according to his figures, the water, sewer, sanitation, and golf funds all saw decreases in their fund balances. The numbers are from the city’s state-required annual update document which Agresta said is almost complete and should be ready to submit in about another week. He stressed that the numbers have not yet been audited by a third party auditor.

Fund 2017/2018 fund balance 2018/2019 fund balance Change
General -$6,193,293 -$3,647,284 +‭$2,546,009‬
Water +$3,478,452 +2,401,093 -$‭1,077,359‬
Sewer -$172,944 -$1,287,718 -$‭1,114,774‬
Sanitation +$597,647 +$323,723 -$‭273,924‬
Golf -$763,374 -$1,029,006 -‭$265,632‬

The transportation fund was not listed,  the department for which was closed last year. However, the fund still has a $1.3 million deficit according to the 2017-2018 audit.

When questioned by Alderman Jim Martuscello about the factors that led to the improvement in the general fund, Agresta listed three: a $350,000 one-time amount left over from the reimbursement to the city for the Chalmers site demolition in 2011, higher than budgeted revenues from the ambulance service, and sales taxes coming in very close to what was budgeted.

Agresta said that increases in sludge processing rates were primarily responsible for the decrease in the sewer fund, as well as numerous emergency sewer repairs.

In regards to the declining golf fund, Agresta attributed declining membership at the course as well the closure of the clubhouse this year due to repairs and renovations.

With the exit of former club house concessionaire Laura Elmendorf, the city made plans to operate the restaurant in the club directly. Those plans were put on hold this year in light of the ongoing repairs due to water damage that occurred earlier in the year.

“I don’t see the golf course surviving long term without the operation of the restaurant,” said Agresta.

Officials did not discuss the $1 million decline in the water fund except that Agresta noted that 2018-2019 was the first year in several that a budgeted transfer from the water fund to the general fund was properly documented. The 2018-2019 budget called for a $1.2 million transfer from the water fund to the general fund.

EFPR Group, the city’s current auditor, has not counted budgeted transfers from the water to the general fund since the 2013-2014 fiscal year, because according to them, the transfers were not shown in the budget to originate from already accumulated fund balance in the water fund.

During 2018-2019 budget meetings, the council restored a large cut to the water rate that was proposed by Mayor Michael Villa, and which was projected to generate an approximate $1 million surplus over projected operating expenses in order to offset the fund balance transfer.

Tim Becker

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