I was reading through the recently completed independent audit of City finances and the numbers are an encouragement considering the nation's economic malaise.
The strong sales tax numbers are combined with expenses coming in under budget by well over a million dollars.
The result is an expanding fund balance which in the general fund now exceeds $13million (that includes $1.9 M in health insurance reserves and $126K in risk retention funds)
While the temptation might be to start spending, the move should be in the direction of tax relief. While the property tax levy represents less than a fourth of general fund expenditures, it is the only revenue stream we control.
Sales tax is determined by contract and state aid is determined by Albany.
While prudence dictates some reserves for emergencies and proper cash flow, it is clear the robust sales tax has resulted in an overtaxing vis-a-vis expenses..
It's not a sinister thing, but the result of good budgeting and cost containment.
Nonetheless, there is ample evidence of where revenue streams will be, even in challenging times. We have to be willing to let some money go back home.
A portion of the fund balance must be used for significant property tax levy relief this cycle. Reducing the balance by say $1.8 million would drop the current property tax levy by 20%. That would be a positive boost to the local economy and a rightful repatriation of funds to the people who own them.
Now is the time to start this dialogue at the city, county, town and village level.
Every set of finances is different as not all entities are funded in the same way, but I suspect the city and county are not the only ones seeing fund balance increases.