Tuesday, January 19, 2016

WDT: Stories About Budgets Often Need a Deeper Look

   The headline is ominous. "Sales Tax Revenues Lag."   Especially when sales tax is not a favored revenue stream by those writing the headline.
    However, having been involved in budgets and having covered budgets, an observation is offered, and not so much on the story linked but the topic in general.
    An audit of recent City finances shows a $370,000 shortfall in revenue, mostly the result of sales tax slightly underperforming. OMG !.  Well hold off.
    In the same fiscal year, expenses in the general fund were $1,700,000 UNDER budget.
    Budgets are estimates of revenue and expenses, and the difference becomes the property tax levy.
    In the case of the City budget I mentioned, there had been a $1.6M appropriation of so called fund balance, which in the city's general fund now amounts to $9.8M.
     At the time of appropriation the argument was made that this was onerous, however the end result of the actual FY showed $300,000 used from fund balance.  Again, budgets are based on certain assumptions and over the course of a year and $50M, it's not unusual to have variances in the aggregate of a couple million dollars. It's the same as your household income.
     The public seldom hears the whole story as it's not easily fit in 50 seconds on TV. It's portrayed like fund balance is a finite bucket of money from which a defined amount was removed.
      Such things are more dynamic, and I have noticed when you try to say that a meetings, you get beat down in favor of simple nuggets that fit better in print or on air.
Watertown Daily Times | St. Lawrence County sees $3 million shortfall in 2015 sales tax revenues

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The drop in the Loonie is hitting hard on Arsenal street. If the slide continues watch for big box retailers to start pulling out of the Watertown. Our location was prime as long as our friends from up North came with cash, but the margins arent nearly as good without them.

Anonymous said...

I am confident we will be hearing this kind of analysis from the new mayor, on a regular basis, if he's not too busy.

Anonymous said...

Simply spending money befoe they have it.. Until they do the proper things the situation will continue to get worse.
Key on the Sheriffs dept overtime first.. Remember the road patrol is not mandated so if the Sheriff continues his trend of going over the budget set forth by the legislators simply suspend all road patrol activities at that point for the year. It is obvious there is a power struggle going on there..
Does the Sheriff need a fiscal officer... NO
Does the Sheriff need three detective SGt on one shift NO
Does the Sheriff need more than one Dare officer.. NO
Does the Sheriff need civil deputies NO
Does the Sheriff need more supervisors on any shift NO
Does the Sheriff need to govern the sick time usage closer in the dept. YES

Then move to DOSS and start cutting
Medicare is in the hands of the state now yet no obvious cuts have been made from the ranks of the people who did that in the past.. If the job is the states then lay off the county workers who were doing the job or consolidate the work still there so some appropriate cuts can be made..
DMV.. There is DMV clerks in the Doss Dept administrating the HEap program also some clerks from other depts there .. Its obvious there is not enough work for these people year round so they should be cut or reduced accordingly
With the state taking on so many different phases of the DOSS dept does that dept really need a deputy commissioner???
I see a need to shut down the satelite DMV offices in the County and cut back on the staff. Sure these offices ar4e somewhat a benifit to some residents but come on folks time are tough.. At least cut back on the days for instance open in Ogd. one day Massena one day Gouv. one day per week..
These folks in office at our legislators level need to learn what is really mandated and make the dept head tell why its mandated then show them the law in each case..

Anonymous said...

Oh stuff it 1117.

Anonymous said...

Hey 11:17 You're right about the JCSD but remember you'll be treated like SH-t by any member of the Dept. you come in contact with about any issue there..The Sheriff Dept is mandated to have A Lockup, A Civil Office, nothing else........The Detective Division is a luxury, as is Road Patrol, and MRAP, K-9, and the Shop-With-A-Cop program but I can't see anything change as many legislators maintain a good relationship with them so to avoid future issues, like assaults with beer bottles, and everything else that happens...

Anonymous said...

Sheriff Wells will be faced soon with the replacement of an UnderSheriff.. Many feel it will be a deputy that has postured for years by the name of OBrien but some of the older people feel a more conservative person like one of the investigators would be appropriate, meaning Mr Bigwarf. Undersheriff is mandated by County Law.. The Civil Division for instance is adverstised in every County as being mandated.. If it is where is the law..??
The Civil division is a division of the Sheriff dept which handles court mandates and enforces them with court orders.. Nothing and I mean nothing says they need Sheriff Civil Deputies.. The road patrol needs to serve these papers and enforce what has to be done..
Another thing this Sheriff balks at is jail personnel transporting prisoners to court.. They can you know... All they need is training and updates yearly and I understand they get most of it now. Once inmates are incarcerated they should be the responsibility of the jail and no one else.
Another trend of the Sheriffs dept is causing grievances to be filed by officers in order to get what the Sheriffs actually want.. This is a age old ploy to make their jobs a little more secure and is mutually done by management and the union ...

Anonymous said...

Gas prices are always some how dragged low when the election year is important to the major parties involved. In this case the current leadership made friends with Iran again. A deal to end all deals. Iran has been shipping oil over to us like it's water. Why do you think the Arabs are flashing swords all over the place against the peace plans other nations have? Wars means high prices for oil. Canada is in the crapper. Oil companies are sad. Domestic oil is to expensive to pump right now. So the oil boom is over too for now. So in line with it all, tax money that was pouring in is gone. But the spending habits don't change real quick. When Butler stated he was going to collect every grant he could get, it made me sick. He needed to be the for-runner who said, "Let's spend less!". Not find new money to spend. The tide will turn and sales tax will take off again. But in the mean time, it's time to slow the roll on spending. What was he thinking? Maybe he didn't think?