By Cindy Goldstein -
Understanding Village finances requires persistence if you are not a municipal auditor. But don’t stop reading - the process is similar to creating your own household budget.
The fiscal condition of the Village for the period ending on May 31, 2023 was summarized by the auditors from PKF O’Connor Davies during the Board of Trustees meeting on January 22nd.
Here are highlights from the report. These highlights refer to the General Fund which is used for Village operations. The Village employs fund accounting to segregate activity and also has funds for Water, Sewer, Capital Projects, Debt Service and other minor restricted funds.
· The Village ended the fiscal year under budget. Revenues were $2.8 million higher than expected, largely thanks to $1.6 million from FEMA and higher than projected sales tax revenue. Spending was $4.3 million lower than budget. Total actual revenues were $43 million; total actual spending was $42.4 million.
· The Village started the fiscal year with a reserve fund balance of $18.6 million and ended the year with $17.6 million. However, some of those funds are restricted to specific uses so the amount available for emergencies is less. The unrestricted amount at the end of the year was $14.8 million.
· This reserve fund is equal to approximately 33% of the current year’s budget. The auditors indicated that the percentage of reserve has remained fairly consistent over recent years, and it is an appropriate amount to keep available for emergencies.
· The Village increased its long-term liabilities for capital projects by $14.9 million or 37% during last fiscal year. At the end of the year, debt for capital construction was $52.8 million.
· The auditors concluded that the Village was in good financial standing.
As the Village closes the books on last fiscal year and begins the budget process for next year, it’s important to highlight some basic facts. Real property taxes are the largest source of overall revenue. If you own a home, the amount of your real property taxes is set by the Board of Trustees during their annual budget process, which begins next month. Note: Village real property taxes are approximately 25% of your overall real estate taxes which include the school, town and county.
The Village issues debt (bonds) to finance capital projects, just as homeowners take out loans to buy or renovate houses. The debt payments - interest and principal - are included in the annual operating budget approved by the Village Board of Trustees.
This annual budgeting responsibility gives the Board an important role in setting spending priorities that affect all Village residents and taxpayers. By law, the budget must be balanced and adopted by April 30th of each year. The Village will be holding multiple work sessions and public meetings before then.