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Town ended 2006 with unexpected surplus

Amherst closed the books on its 2006 fiscal year with a $2 million surplus, but while officials were pleased with the outcome, nobody, including the town's budget writers, could have predicted it.

The final pieces of the budget puzzle involved borrowing, dipping into surplus funds and delaying payments for the state pension plan, officials said.

Overall, Amherst had total revenues of $148,522,598 for the year ending last December, and it spent a total of $148,578,033, leaving a modest shortfall of $55,435. But Amherst also overspent its budgets for utilities, health insurance and other needs.

And taxpayers are continuing to lose out on another $50,000 a month in savings for medical insurance because of protracted labor talks with the union representing highway workers, Council Member William Kindel complained. Kindel stopped short of blaming Supervisor Satish B. Mohan for the delays.

But Mohan said, "They will blame me, because I am negotiating the contract."

Mohan said he could not discuss negotiations because of confidentiality rules, but he said the town continues to meet resistance in the talks.

After borrowing and dipping into surplus funds for about $2.2 million, the town was able to pay nearly $3 million in contributions to the state pension fund, Mohan reported. State officials also have allowed the town to defer paying another $3.1 million of pension contributions.

Factoring in about $2.9 million in bond debt service payments and the delayed pension payments, the town reported a total budget savings of $6 million, which offset $3.9 million in overspending and gave the town a $2.1 million net surplus.

By a 4-2 vote, the board turned down a proposed 90-day moratorium on development in the Sweet Home Road corridor to allow the town and the University at Buffalo to discuss planning and development there. Mohan abstained.

The board approved, 5-1, rezoning to allow a Tim Hortons shop on Sweet Home Road at Skinnerville Road.


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