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Accountants praise town for its budget

The Town of Elma received a top grade on its 2011 financial report from accountants Drescher and Malicki at Wednesday's work session.

Wayne Drescher called it a very solid budget based on a sound fiscal year.

The most important part of this balance sheet, he said, is the general fund balance of $1.48 million. The town spends $2.5 million a year out of the general fund to run the town, including $300,000 for a road project for New Bullis Road.

The highway budget shows expenditures of $1.1 million but has a fund balance of $298,000 and the Water Department has a fund balance of $705,000, which mainly is put aside for emergencies.

The town fund balance totals $2.8 million, of which $1.3 million is from sales tax revenues.

There has been a $28,000 increase in the general fund balance, $162,000 increase in the highway fund balance, due mainly to the warm winter, an increase of $115,000 for the Water Department and $21,000 for the Fire Protection District.

Overall, town residents have seen a tax reduction for the fourth year in a row. The town has no debt and takes advantage of grants as often as it can, especially to fix roads.

The management letter revealed a few items that need attention, such as some department heads buying first and asking for permission later.

Drescher said the amount of money that flows through the town clerk's office is $1.6 million for licenses and fees, and $23 million for taxes. Town justices collect $480,000 in fines, bail and forfeitures.

In other matters, the Town Board authorized the Water Superintendent Eugene Stevenson to write specifications for a new half-ton pickup truck to replace a 1999 van with 180,000 miles.

The board authorized Highway Superintendent Wayne Clark to put a new engine in an old refuse truck with 350,000 miles to get through the next five months before a new truck can be delivered. The old one then will be available on a standby basis. Currently the town is renting a truck at $100 a load to get rid of trash and recyclables.

The town is considering an energy-efficient lighting program with New York State Electric & Gas at a cost of $8,000 that will deliver a payback over three years. The board will vote on it at next week's meeting.