Ferry reviews Ogdensburg's audit

Ogdensburg. Auditor cautions the council against further use of the fund balance

Sep 03 2019 | 02:50 PM

Municipal Auditor Thomas M. Ferry reviewed the 2018 Audit comments and recommendations on Aug. 26, at the Ogdensburg Council meeting.

At the beginning of the year, Ferry said, the fund balance was $1.138 million and ended the year at $1.075 million. He said Ogdensburg had excess revenues over expenditures of $107K, and they used $169K to balance the budget. In the future, he recommended caution in continuing to use the fund balance monies to balance the budget.

Ferry also reviewed the lowering tax collection rate from 97.70 percent in 2016; 97.01 percent in 2017; to 96.84 percent in 2018. He explained the lower tax collection rate requires more money to be budgeted as a reserve for uncollected taxes.

Furthermore, Ferry said, delinquent taxes and tax title leans keep increasing. The tax title leans increased from $273,000 in 2016; to $302,000 in 2017; and $342,000 in 2018.

On the water utilities side, Ferry said, the fund balance started in the beginning of the year at $232K and ended the year at $258K. Ogdensburg had excess revenues over expenditures of almost $65K, he said, and they balanced the budget with $39K.

Ferry said Ogdensburg’s statutory net debt is 0.355 percent - “a healthy number.” He continued, the water utility fund is “self-liquidating,” because the revenues from the water rents, miscellaneous revenues, and connection fees are paying for the operations, maintenance expenses, and debt service.

Additionally, Ferry said, the $662,000 general fund bond anticipation notes are scheduled to be paid off within 10-year increments in the budget.

On the good side, Ferry said, the fund balance increased from $782K in 2014 to: $800K in 2015; $1.1 million in 2016; $1.138 million in 2017; and $1.075 million in 2018. He said they lowered the amount placed in the 2018 fund balance from $169,000 to $140,000 in the 2019 fund balance.

The Water Utility fund balance went from $172,000 in 2014, Ferry said, to: $203,000 in 2015; $218,000 in 2016; $232,000 in 2017; and $258,000 in 2018. Thus, he said, they did not need to raise rates.

Ferry said Ogdensburg does not have enough employees to complete all the necessary financial tasks, along with checks and balances, so someone could steal money. Per government standards, he said, he will notify the state that “holes exist,” just like “75 percent of the towns in Sussex County.”

After the report presentation, the Council unanimously reviewed and certified the 2018 Audit comments and recommendations. Councilman Anthony Nasisi and Councilwoman Brenda O’Dell were absent.

The council also unanimously approved the Chief Financial Officer’s Corrective Action Plan for the 2018 Audit Report.

Other voting

The council unanimously awarded a three-year term and four month contract to Blue Diamond Disposal, Inc. for around $17,775 per month and $711,000 per year. Blue Diamond was the sole bidder.

For budgeting purposes, Borough Attorney Robert McBriar said, the extra four months brought the contract together with the calendar year.

Next, the council adopted an ordinance which added additional stop intersections based on the recommendation of Police Chief Stephen Gordon.

Finally, the council unanimously introduced an ordinance appropriating $20,600 within the General Capital – Capital Improvement Fund. Public hearing will be Sept. 9.